Artist-in-Residence Chanel Thervil

Portraits of Black Arlington

ACAC’s third Artist-in-Residence is Chanel Thervil, a Haitian-American artist who is making waves and spreading joy in the Greater Boston area with her vivid and compelling mixed-media portraits of friends, family and informal community leaders. During her residency, Chanel will focus on capturing the likenesses and spirit of some of Arlington’s Black community members – living, working, or going to school in the town – for a celebratory public art project. At a time when social and racial justice challenges are urgent around the nation as well as here at home, our goal is to shine some light on our town’s diverse Black community. Jill Harvey, Arlington’s Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is working in close partnership with Cecily Miller, ACAC’s Public Art Curator, to plan and implement this residency.  RepHAIRations, a welcoming storefront space selling Black hair products, locally made fashion items, and an outstanding selection of books on Black culture, has joined us as a partner; the store’s 3 co-owners are helping with outreach and hosting activities.
You can enjoy a short video Chanel made to introduce herself to Arlington here!

Chanel facilitated several gatherings in October and November inviting Black folks to gather and share stories of living in Arlington.  At the end, Chanel encouraged everyone to fill out a poster with the prompt “I celebrate my Blackness by: ____” Some of these are currently on view in the storefront window of RepHAIRations (1339 Mass Avenue in Arlington Heights), where two of her portraits are also exhibited.
The next step is a photo shoot with Chanel on November 15 and 20 to collect source material for the final artwork; more information and registration is here.  If you are interested in participating, please email Cecily at for more information.
Arlington Portrait Workshop Coming in January
In December, Chanel will be creating a video with production support from the wonderful folks at ACMi; this will be released in January so stay tuned.  Shot “on location” in her Boston studio, Chanel will share a behind the scenes look at her own artwork and process, and then lead viewers through a series of prompts to help them develop their own portraits.  The goal of this component of the residency is to invite everyone in Arlington to reflect on the act of portraiture and create their own tributes to friends, family, or neighbors.  You can use any medium, including collage, words, abstract imagery, photos or video; the goal is to call out qualities you appreciate and admire in the people who enrich your life.  We will also invite you to share these portraits on social media with the hashtag #arlingtonportraits

More about Chanel Thervil

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 Google. Her work has been featured by PBS Kids, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, The Bay State Banner, WBUR’s ARTery, WGBH, and Hyperallergic. See some of her work here!

Chanel Thervil’s Artist-in-Residence is organized by the Arlington Commission for Arts & Culture in collaboration with the Town of Arlington Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Portraits of Black Arlington is made possible with funding from the New England Foundation for the Arts’ Public Art for Spatial Justice Program, with generous support from the Barr Foundation, and through grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. For more information contact: