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Edra Soto’s Expressive Survey Comes To Hyde Park Art Center

Written by on March 16, 2023

The Hyde Park Art Center announced their slate of Spring programs on March 7, including the opening of Edra Soto’s largest survey to date, Destination/el destino: a decade of GRAFT. The survey will be featured at HPAC’s April 22 Spring Center Day, which is among over 200 programs offered annually by the Art Center that are both free to the public and designed for artists of all ages.

Edra Soto,
Graft detail, 2022, Photo by Lou Lauren

The GRAFT series was developed as part of HPAC’s Center Program, which, according to the Center, “allows working artists access to space to develop studio practice, inclusion in critical dialogues, guidance from professionals in the field, and a platform to show new works to a broader, diverse audience.” The Program goes a step beyond the Art Center’s robust quarterly studio courses, and consists of a series of in-depth seminars centering professional career development for artists.

Edra Soto explores architecture based on the unique traditions of her native Puerto Rico, including the quiebrasoles, or the ornate concrete blocks that are common throughout the Caribbean, and rejas, or ornamental grilles or screens typically made of wrought iron, the sort that one might see in the French Quarter in New Orleans, for instance. Both are decorative elements that also serve to protect or add a barrier between spaces and the street.

Edra Soto, photo credit Steph Murray

Her explorations, which includes wall reliefs, sculptures and installations further speak to placemaking spaces for respite and cultural hybridity. The artist, who earned her MFA in painting, has been working in this placemaking medium for much of her career, as a means to transport the vernacular architecture of her homeland to museums and other lands, which, in the wake of the destruction raged by Hurricane Maria in 2017, also blends the act of remembering. She told Newcity that in the aftermath, “I lost my landscape.

Her work has been exhibited at spaces such as Millennium Park, El Museo del Barrio in New York City, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Smart Museum in Chicago.

Edra Soto, Screenhouse (installed at Millennium Park, Chicago), 2022, Photo courtesy the artist

Soto’s GRAFT series is on view as part of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s exhibition no existe un mundo poshuracán: Puerto Rican Art in the Wake of Hurricane Maria through April 23.

Ciera McKissick, Public Progams Manager at the Art Center (who was also profiled back in 2018 for our series “This Is What Chicago Sounds Like”) explains the programming serves to connect HPAC and the artistic community.

“One of the main tenets of our mission is to build relationships with artists and maintain those relationships throughout the artist’s career,” McKissick said. “Often, when artists participate in a program, they become a part of our ecosystem and vice versa. Our public programs are developed hand-in-hand with the Art Center’s education, residency and exhibitions teams, so that artists are exposed to professional opportunities such as teaching, exhibiting and performing, and bring new collaborators into the fold.”

More spring programming from the Center can be found below.

RELATED: Ciera McKissick Is A Champion For Chicago’s Creativity (2018)


Summit | SURVIVING THE LONG WARS: Unlikely Entanglements

Thursday and Friday, March 16-17, 10 a.m.–6 p.m., free with registration

The SURVIVING THE LONG WARS (STLW) summit explores the multiple, overlapping histories that shape our understanding of warfare, as well as alternative visions of peace, healing, and justice generated by diverse communities impacted by war. The summit features the STLW performance program and concluding discussion series of the yearlong Dialogues on the Experience of War program, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Talk & Tour | SURVIVING THE LONG WARS: Unlikely Entanglements

Tuesday, April 11, 6:30–8 p.m., free registration encouraged

Exhibition organizers and artists explore the themes that inspired this year’s Veteran Art Triennial exhibition, SURVIVING THE LONG WARS: Unlikely Entanglements. The conversation will address the parallels and connections between the artworks on view and the civilians and BIPOC military veterans impacted by these long wars.

LandFORMS at EXPO Chicago

April 14-16, 11 a.m.–7p.m., free with festival admission

Booth 453 in Navy Pier’s Festival Hall

The Art Center will present a micro-exhibition of works by Regina Agu and Farah Salem that reflect on the relationship between geography, the body, and the histories and traditions embedded in landscapes. Agu’s interest in landscapes, particularly of the Gulf South began as a lens-based biographical exploration, grew into a deep visual study of Black geographies and spatial concerns informed by her academic training in policy studies and data science. Salem’s most recent multimedia installations trace relationships between land and ancestral healing practices. Informed by her profession as an art therapist and counselor applying somatic-based therapies for trauma healing, research and experiments with movement-based and musical traditions from the Arabian Peninsula, Salem’s practice explores the potential erasure of socio-cultural conditioning that influences and distorts shared realities.

Founded in 1939, the Hyde Park Art Center is located at 5020 S. Cornell Avenue in Chicago. More information about the Center can be found here.

Written by Ayana Contreras

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