“Peer Support”

Featured artist: Thanvi Anand


Teju Anand

Thanvi Anand, Rhea Park, Dorothy Yeung and Calista Koo created the stunning piece on a brick wall. A heart is formed, encased within a lantern. Inscribed in small letters on the lantern: “You’re not alone.” On the reaching hand: “I’m here for you.”

Thanvi Anand’s first dalliance with public art was scribbling family portraits on her living room walls when she was 3 years old. Her art has undoubtedly matured since then, but has managed to retain that authenticity. 

“Art was my first language,” Anand reminisces. “It’s the way I express my feelings.” 

And in striving to communicate intangible, yet essential, ideas through her art, Anand and her group — Rhea Park, Dorothy Yeung and Calista Koo — constructed a momentous, surreal-esque tape art mural, which explores the positive impact peer support and constructive communication can have on young people making their way through high school. 

The tape art itself is exquisite, and deceptively simple. One hand carries the focal image — a lantern holding a beating heart — while another hand lights the lantern with a single flame. Three words offer reassurance to onlookers: “You’re not alone.” The hands frame the heart, almost sheltering it, lending a powerful, comforting message: that someone’s always there for you. 

Weaving in such abstract messages through art is nothing new to Anand: she loves to create pieces that hold potential for versatile interpretation. Drawing inspiration from her favorite artist, Alphonse Mucha, a renowned Czech Art Nouveau painter, Anand believes that art is most powerful when it sparks unique reactions in its observers. Some of her other works include surrealist, intimate portraits, and sketches of nature with underlying themes, for example. 

Since she understands the distinct personal struggles of students at Dougherty, Anand wanted to use her philosophy to create a tape art project that projected a universal message about student stress, but with a personal angle. 

“I think everyone can relate to the fact that stress can impact you in a negative way, and I think that peer support can resolve this stress,” Anand explained. 

In fact, peer support has been a large influence in Anand’s own artistic journey, and helped her discover art as an outlet for her own stress. She described how seeing the remarkable talents of artists her age when she began taking art classes in elementary school inspired her to find her own voice in her work alongside them. Even working on the tape art with her group was an exercise in support: Anand describes how collaborative the entire process was, from wild conception to careful execution. And amidst the often toxic background of parental stress at Dougherty, Anand is particularly thankful for her family’s support of her endeavors. 

“I’m very lucky to have supportive parents and friends; I think it’s a very important aspect of our lives to have that support system,” she described. 

Ultimately, Anand hopes that this tape art project, and her many other pieces to follow will start conversations in her community. Already, Anand has been reached out to by fellow students who have connected to her tape art, something which makes her immensely proud and she hopes will continue. 

Anand reflected pensively, “In the time we’re in, there are many different perspectives and opinions coming out, and we need to continue on this path and start important conversations through art.”