States of Health: Visualizing Illness and Healing

Marcus Leatherdale, American, born Canada, born 1952. AIDS, 1988. Gelatin silver print. Gift of James Kraft, Class of 1957 (2006-423); Maya, Old woman and infant, A.D. 600–800. Ceramic with traces of Maya blue pigment. Gift of Gillett G. Griffin (2003-26)

Throughout history and across cultures, concepts of illness and healing have been given concrete form through art. States of Health features over eighty works of global art, from antiquity to the present—including paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, photographs, and multimedia—that collectively illuminate the role that art plays in shaping our perceptions and experiences of illness and healing. Provocative cross-cultural juxtapositions throughout the exhibition consider both broad issues and specific historical events, such as the bubonic plague and the AIDS crisis, from a visual perspective. Functioning variously as document, metaphor, fantasy, protest, invocation, and testimony, the selected works of art examine societal anxiety around pandemics and infectious disease, respond to mental illness, present the hopes and dangers associated with childbirth, and explore the complexities of care.

States of Health: Visualizing Illness and Healing is made possible in part by the Malcolm J. Goldstein, Class of 1947, Fund; the Frances E. and Elias Wolf, Class of 1920, Fund; and by J. Bryan King, Class of 1993. This exhibition is further supported by the Gillett G. Griffin Art of the Ancient Americas Fund and by Princeton University's Humanities Council, Peter B. Lewis Center for the Arts, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Council on Science and Technology, Department of Molecular Biology, and Department of Anthropology.