Episode 21: Edra Soto

(un)making

Episode 21: Edra Soto

By Weston Teruya November 24, 2017

Weston Teruya welcomes artists, arts administrators, and cultural workers of color to get real about their lives, practices, and careers. Each episode is an in-depth look into how art gets made, but more importantly how these folks are seeing to the system of art’s (UN)making.


In this episode, I journeyed up to the Headlands Center for the Arts to talk with artist, educator, and curator Edra Soto while she was in residence. While there, Edra showcased her project Open 24 Hours, an architectural intervention and social engagement space that gathers collections of found glass liquor bottles from her neighborhood of East Garfield Park in Chicago to begin examining the complicated social and cultural life of her communities. She often creates frameworks for her projects by creating temporary structures and architectural “grafts” inspired by rejas—patterned wrought iron fences that are ubiquitous vernacular elements on older homes and buildings in her native Puerto Rico.

We talk about the lines between art and activism, aesthetic gesture and post-colonial intervention; the complicated and racialized histories of bourbon; adjusting the velocity at which people receive your work; and pushing out of her comfort zones in curating her backyard, artist-run space: The Franklin.

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Edra Soto is a Chicago-based artist, educator, curator, and co-director of the artist-run outdoor project space The Franklin. Her work has been exhibited in the 4th Poly/Graphic Triennial of San Juan and the Caribbean in Puerto Rico, Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space, The Arts Club of Chicago, The University Galleries at Illinois State University, Museo de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, the Pérez Art Museum Miami, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago, the DePaul Art Museum, and the Hunter East Harlem Gallery, in New York. Along with projects at The Franklin, she has curated exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center, Loyola University, Project Row Houses, and Mana Contemporary. She has had residencies with Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Beta-Local in Puerto Rico, Headlands Center for the Arts, Project Row Houses, Kohler Art Center, and the Robert Rauschenberg Residency Program through a 3Arts Foundation Fellowship. She has received a Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship.

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