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Benjamin Betsalel

Artist In Action
Asheville, Paris, the World
Benjamin M. Betsalel is a nomadic artist who makes large-scale portraits, abstract paintings (“the weather or not”) and writings wherever he goes, utilizing art as a catalyst for dialogue, deeper understanding, and raising awareness.

Through his work he explores identity, shared experience, internal landscape, and place — having spent 2014 and 2015 living and working in Colombia South America, and 2012 - 2013 in northern Ethiopia.

Betsalel is currently working on an ongoing portrait project, which involves creating stand-alone series of portrait vignettes that focus on various themes related to humanitarian action, conflict and change.

By focusing on the portrait process as a happening, he utilizes portraiture as a catalyst for dialogue - person to person - working in series by theme with subjects who share a particular life experience, identity on paper, or place in time. The conceptual framework of each series connects the individual portraits, which vary in technique, application of materials, and appearance. 

In exhibition, each portrait subject or “project participant” is represented by three elements: 4 x 5 ft. portrait, short first person narrative, and object of importance from their life.

The most recent series, “human beings, inside and outside" involved teaching self-portrait workshops in 3 prisons across Colombia and creating portrait vignettes of detainees, their family members and on prison guard. This series was his second collaboration with International Committee of the Red Cross (IRCR), and was part of a media campaign commemorating the ICRC's 100 years working inside prisons. The original 13 portrait vignettes were shown in conjunction with a media and stakeholder event in Bogotá and a replica of the series has toured the throughout the Colombia along with 20,000 catalogs of the portrait vignettes, which were shared with the authorities, project participants, stakeholders, and general public.

Betsalel studied drawing and painting at Savannah College of Art and Design (USA), water based paint and printmaking at University of Chester (U.K.) and is a 2004 Research Scholar graduate of the University of North Carolina-Asheville (USA). Betsalel has won various awards for his work and has shown in the USA, Europe, Africa and South America.