Born in Haiti and schooled in Belgium, Chantal Bethel's diverse background is a key foundational influence for the complex and multilayered art works that reflect her story.
She came to her artistic practice later in life, after a long career in medical management. Bethel was mentored in the Bahamas by artist Antonius Roberts, OBE, who encouraged her to take the first step in a series of workshops which began with Jeannie Dobie, AWS (American Watercolour Society and author of Making Color Sing) in Leuven, Belgium. She continued her quest for artistic knowledge at the Fine Art Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts with Selina Trieff, one the the original New York based figurative expressionist painters of the early 1950s. She then furthered her art education at the Haliburton School of the Arts in Canada.
Chantal Bethel describes the overdue connection with her inventive side as a “renaissance". This rebirth connects with a deep innate spirituality that is evident in her craft. Emotion and a reconnection with her heritage is a strong part of Bethel’s practice.
Bethel works in painting, mixed media, sculpture, assemblage, and installation. She loves experimenting with her use of materials, especially the crackle medium, the royal palm frond, calabash, holey stone, and weathered wood.
In January of 2020, her mixed media installation, Poto-Mitan, was exhibited at The Waterloo Center for the Arts in Iowa, USA, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the devastating earthquake that rocked the island nation of Haiti. That artwork became part of the Waterloo Center for the Arts' permanent collection in 2014.
She has exhibited extensively in The Bahamas with multiple juried exhibitions at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB), seven solo exhibitions held in Nassau at D'Aguilar Art Foundation, Hillside House gallery, Special Project Space at NAGB, the Central Bank of The Bahamas, and in Freeport at the Art Center in Grand Bahama. Her work has also been showcased in Paris, Brussels, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Iowa, Vancouver, and Santiago de Cuba.
Bethel was honoured by Miami Children's Hospital for her work with children's issues through art, and one of her artworks is in their permanent art collection. In 2008, she received the award for outstanding achievement in the realm of Fine Art given by the Bureau of Women’s Affair, Commonwealth of The Bahamas. In 2010 she received an Award of Excellence in Washington D.C. for her painting, Requiem for Haiti, which is now in their permanent collection. She was the selected artist for the 2015 World Day of Prayer, including the issuance of a commemorative postal stamp of her winning piece.
Chantal Bethel is pleased to have launched her first coffee table book in 2019. Beyond the Surface: Art, Discovery, Healing and Transformation is a full colour 112-page hardcover book sharing Chantal Bethel's works through the lens of discovery, healing and transformation. A selection of essays, quotes, and poems about the artist's work by various writers, art historians, curators, artists and critics are also showcased.