Open 24 Hours
Courtesy of the artist
Edra Soto is a Chicago-based artist, educator, curator, and co-director of the artist-run outdoor project space THE FRANKLIN. She obtained her Master of Fine Arts degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2000, as well as attending Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Beta-Local in Puerto Rico and the Robert Rauschenberg Residency Program in Captiva, Florida though a 3Arts Foundation Fellowship.
Here work was recently featured at the 4th Poly/Graphic Triennial of San Juan and the Caribbean in Puerto Rico, Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space and the Hunter East Harlem Gallery, in New York. She co-curated with artist Josue Pellot the exhibition Present Standard, at the Chicago Cultural Center with overwhelmingly positive reviews from the Chicago Tribune, Newcity and Artforum. She was recently featured in Newcity’s annual Art 50 issue, Chicago’s Artists’ Artists and awarded the Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship.
Upcoming venues presenting Soto’s work include: The Arts Club of Chicago; The University Galleries at Illinois State University; Museo de la Universidad de Puerto Rico; the DePaul Art Museum; the Pérez Art Museum Miami, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago; residencies at Project Row Houses in Houston, TX, the Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan WI, the Robert Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, FL, Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, CA and a long awaited commission in collaboration with Dan Sullivan from the Chicago Transit Authority, featured her architectural intervention titled GRAFT at the Western Avenue stop on the train line to O’Hare Airport. Her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally.
My work is motivated by constructed social hierarchies, diasporic identity, and colonialism, which I situate in engaging and contemplative contexts. I aim to challenge the boundaries between audience, artist, and the work itself and to amplify the democratic potential that art has to offer. My practice walks the line between social practice, immersive installations, and architectural interventions to engage the public through my use of traditional and unusual materials. Materiality and humanity are intertwined, whereby I create an accessible experience for audiences who approach my work.
Alluding to issues of class, race, cultural origins, hierarchies, and myth, I create symbolic gestures of colonization and subjugation, prompting viewers to reconsider postcolonial visual culture. These gestures are directly connected to my upbringing, personal and familial relationships, and my geographical relationships with past and present communities in Puerto Rico, United States, and the wider Caribbean.
My appreciation for multiple disciplines manifests itself not only in my visual work, but also in my philosophy on life. I want to create possibilities for connecting diverse communities and providing visibility to artists. This has led me to create an artist-run project space in the backyard of my home. This project space allows me to give opportunities to artists, at various stages of their careers, with a platform to experiment and showcase new work. More than providing visibility, I foster relationships between the artists and audiences. My affinity for curatorial pursuits has expanded in the last year; for example, I was invited by an institution to curate an exhibition, showing groundbreaking works by underrepresented artists, who have expansive and brilliant careers but are not focused on commercial aspects of the art world.
Edra Soto's exhibition Open 24 Hours is produced with support from the Efroymson Family Fund.