Artist: Carlos Betancourt
Site-specific installation, Española Way, 2021
A collaboration between Betancourt and architect Alberto Latorre, Milagros! is an ephemeral installation inspired by an old folk custom traceable to the ancient Iberians who inhabited the coastal regions of Spain. The work is composed of hundreds of charms hanging on wire garlands above the street, presented as symbols of devotion, hope, and healing. These charms can usually be seen attached to altars and shrines, often presented as a votive offering for healing purposes. Also called ex-votos or promesas they can be found internationally, but particularly in Latin America. Depending on local customs, they can be made of different materials but are generally tin and metals. A mechanism to activate the viewer’s wishes and desires, Milagros alludes to the importance of history, traditions, and cultural heritage in the context of an increasingly hegemonic contemporary culture.
In developing the work, Betancourt invited friends and the public to submit their most significant desires and wishes which he utilized for inspiration and direction. On the public unveiling, viewers are invited to process the suspended “temple” above their heads as a way to symbolically activate the installation.
Carlos Betancourt (born San Juan, Puerto Rico 1966) is an American artist, generally described as a multi-disciplinary artist. His artworks explore issues of memory, and his own experiences, while also dwelling in issues of nature, the environment and matters of beauty, identity, and communication. By means of re-examination, he recycles and reinterprets the past by delivering it in a fresh and new relevant context. Influenced by personal memories, he believes that art can be informed by one’s own experiences, not necessarily the other way around.
Mr. Betancourt’s artwork is part of public collections such as the Smithsonian’ National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas, New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana, Palm Springs Arts Museum, California, Bass Museum of Art, Florida, PAMM Perez Art Museum, Florida, Museo de Arte Ponde, Puerto Rico. His work is exhibited in various galleries as well as art fairs such as Art Basel and Arco. He is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including the Florida Department of State Millennium Cultural Recognition Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Grant, Bas-Fisher Invitational Grant, the Florida Prize on Contemporary Art People Choice Award, and the Miami Beach Cultural Arts Council Grant . He has worked as a curator, furniture designer and has collaborated in architectural and site-specific private and public commissions with architect Alberto Latorre.