Chantal Bethel: Poto Mitan


Artist’s Statement              

January 12
th, 2010 is forever etched in my mind…As the earth shook, Haiti collapsed in chaos.  In the Bahamas my heart ached...As I watched the photos on television and saw the Cathedral totally destroyed it was an emotional devastation, as if my whole childhood was being erased in front of me… I felt compelled to make art.

This installation is inspired by Vodou but is not a representation of a vodou temple. I have used my artistic license to create a sacred space out of the need to pray for the healing of Haiti.  The word Poto-mitan is Creole and refers to the centre pole of a vodou temple or Peristyle.  In this work it is the place where Heaven meets earth – a healing place.

--Chantal E.Y. Bethel    

Curator’s Statement            

The moments after 4:53 pm on January 12, 2010 in Port au Prince, Haiti, the 7.0 magnitude earthquake reminded us how fragile life is.

In times of devastation it is cathartic to have access to a space to reflect on loss. This is a place where people of all faiths and social echelons can congregate to begin the process of healing. Chantal Bethel’s Poto Mitan is this place for meditation and prayer.

Chantal Bethel’s journey as an artist and a native of Haiti moved her to go to Port au Prince so that she could physically appreciate the degree of destruction and human suffering. By channeling her experience through her artwork, Bethel has met the challenge of providing the viewer with a genuine perspective and heartfelt perception of the culture and the turmoil that she witnessed.

The D’Aguilar Art Foundation is honored to present Poto Mitan. Bethel has constructed a space some 550 miles away from a city that still continues to restore its life. In this installation of the formidable spirit and resilience of Haiti we are reminded that in life there is always hope.

--Holly Parotti