Haitian-American visual artist Chanel Thervil aims to destigmatize pervasive stereotypes surrounding mental health with the Quarantine Self Care Series. She takes a granular approach to portraiture, beautifully capturing people of color indulging in restorative acts of self-care. The materials Thervil employs include tablecloths, bubble wrap, acrylic and masking tape.
On the surface, “Flow Into Stillness: Portrait of Guy” celebrates the simplicity of self-care and how it can include music, meditation and dance. However, she showcases the complexity of her creative process through YouTube videos documenting each composition from start to finish. This transparency is not only valuable but refreshing; a glimpse into Thervil’s ingenuity proves just how unique and accessible it truly is.
Instagram Live interviews with each one of her subjects illuminate the misconceptions that continuously plague marginalized communities when it comes to the notion of wellness. She intentionally and skillfully works to erode the archetype that equates Blackness with strength. “Flow Into Stillness: Portrait of Guy” addresses the importance of vulnerability and how wealth informs health.
Self-care differs from person to person and the artist emphasizes this message with her dynamic use of vibrant colors, assorted mixed media and razorlike precision to detail. This particular image asserts that basic, unadorned activities such as taking or nap or enjoying a hot shower, can be considered acts of renewal.
Thervil’s rich imagination is the perfect platform for individualized forms of rejuvenation to take flight. The Quarantine Self Care Series is an innovative and bold reminder of how brilliant Black folks can be when they are given the space and time to reclaim their narrative.
— Candace McDuffie
Chanel Thervil is a Haitian American artist and educator who uses varying combinations of abstraction and portraiture to convene communal dialogue around culture, social issues, and existential questions. At the core of her practice lies a desire to empower and inspire tenderness and healing among communities of color through the arts. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from Pace University and a Master’s Degree in Art Education from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She's been making a splash in Boston via her educational collaborations, public art, and residencies with institutions like The Museum of Fine Arts, The Boston Children's Museum, The DeCordova Museum, The Harvard Ed Portal, and The Cambridge Public Library. Her work has been featured by PBS Kids, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, The Bay State Banner, WBUR's ARTery, WGBH, and Hyperallergic.