Interdisciplinary artist Mengxi “Althea” Rao creates social engagement models to facilitate open and playful conversations around topics that are traditionally associated with shame and negativity, such as inherited privilege, mental illness, gender and sexuality. Her works empower individuals and help them find reconciliation with their cultures and selves. “Humans exist in the physical realm but my art does not.” Mediums Rao has explored include but are not restricted to: film and video, projection mapping, physical computing, contact improvisation, light sculpture, public space activation, rituals, and choir singing.
Rao has lived and worked in China, Japan and the US, and received training in journalism and filmmaking. She was most recently one of the eight Social Impact Fellow at Halcyon Arts Lab in Washington DC and her work on gender equity was featured during By the People Festival in 2019. During her time in the nation’s capital, she has set up multi-iterations of public space activations at the Goethe Institut, Corcoran Gallery, Smithsonian Freer|Sackler Gallery, The French Embassy and Hirshhorn Museum.
Rao is currently an artist-in-residence at Artspace New Haven and a toolmaker-in-residence at Signal Cultural Media Lab in upstate New York.