Art Connects to Wellbeing (Session 7C)
Main Topic: Creativity and the Arts
Session Type: Talk Story
Please bring paper and pen/pencil/markers/crayons for this session.
Chanika Svetvilas’s interdisciplinary artwork focuses on the diversity of the intersectional lived experience of mental health difference, and the impact of the stigma and discrimination encountered by utilizing an archive of medication guides, prescription bottles, media documentation of current events, historical and psychiatric resource materials, and a personal archive that reflect mental health conditions and systemic and historical legacies to find strength in vulnerability. In this PowerPoint presentation, Svetvilas presents public interactive works that give the viewers the opportunity to empathize and identify with the experience of mental health difference through their actions. “Prescription of Support” invites the public to write a prescription of support and insert it into a prescription bottle provided and to take one that someone else has written. The bottles are labeled with a QR code that is an audio interview between someone who self identifies with a mental health difference and someone who is a part of their support network. The QR code also includes the suicide hotline and web link to the National Alliance of Mental Illness. The use of the prescription bottle questions how medical forms of healing are balanced with the interdependence of support. How does one create a safe environment for participation, creation, and sharing while safeguarding from triggers? The “Speech Balloon” installation invites viewers to complete the sentence “I am” printed on balloons provided by writing their self-affirmation on it with markers. By externalizing their expression, they empower themselves and others can identify with their feelings as well. How can art or objects be used to initiate conversation and discussion of lived experiences? The workshop, “Art Connects to Wellbeing,” explores the meaning of stigma from its etymology to the spectrum of personal experience through collage and discussion and examines the complexities and facets of support. How can you turn a negative term like stigma into a positive empowering instrument through creativity and find commonalities that reach beyond mental health? The scope of Svetvilas’ work aims to use personal lived experience to address broader issues of access and mutual aid while creating a supportive community with shared resources. Attendees will discover ways they can apply art as a vehicle for exploring lived experiences, cultivate a way to share and create community, and empower the individual through self-reflection through art.
- Art can be a form of healing practice.
- Art can be used as a form of resistance.
- Art can create community by sharing experiences and resources through social practice.
- The audience for the arts needs to be inclusive of those who self-identify with disability.
Keywords: Mental health, bipolar disorder, stigma, access, mutual aid, art, creativity, disability, support, interdependence, healing, wellbeing
Ms. Chanika SvetvilasArtist
Chanika Svetvilas is an interdisciplinary artist who utilizes lived experience in her art practice as a way to create safe spaces, to disrupt stereotypes and to reflect on contemporary issues.
She has presented her interdisciplinary work nationally in multiple spaces and contexts including currently at Ethan Cohen KuBe in Beacon, NY. Her drawings and sculpture will be published in Wordgathering and Rogue Agent this year. Her work is also included in Studying Disability Arts and Culture: An Introduction by Petra Kuppers and the NuyorAsian Anthology edited by Bino Realuyo. She holds a BS from Skidmore College and an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College.