Art Exhibition—“Destination/El Destino: a decade of GRAFT”

“Destination/El Destino: a decade of GRAFT,” by Puerto Rican artist Edra Soto, is an upcoming exhibition opening at Chicago’s Hyde Park Art Center (Gallery 1 & Jackman Goldwasser Catwalk Gallery). The exhibition runs from April 22 to August 6, 2023.

Description: The solo exhibition Destination/El Destino: a decade of GRAFT concentrates on the decade-long series of artworks by Chicago-based, Puerto Rican artist, educator, and organizer Edra Soto, while speculating on the evolution of this work towards establishing more emotionally transformative and healing public spaces. Activating the indoor/outdoor feature of the main gallery, Soto will build an immersive installation of porous sculptures, documentary photographs, drawings and games that create a playful and open environment for discussing cultural hybridity.

Through the GRAFT series of sculptures, wall reliefs and installations, Edra Soto explores vernacular architecture familiar to the artist’s native Puerto Rico to address the adaptability and hybridity of cultural representation. GRAFT makes reference to two common domestic architectural elements: the quiebrasoles, which are distinctly ornate concrete blocks, and rejas, ornamental grilles or screens typically made of wrought iron. Both are arranged in decorative geometric patterns to create shade or act as a protective barrier between the street and the home. Recent iterations of GRAFT include small viewfinders embedded in the void of geometric patterns in Soto’s installations. In peering through the viewfinders, the audience is met with images of Soto’s childhood home, scenes from various neighborhoods, destruction from hurricane Maria, screenshots of television commercials, and magazine advertisements. In previous GRAFT work, all photo documentation has come from Soto’s personal archive. For Destination/El Destino, Soto will collaborate with Puerto Rican and US-based artists to include their photographs and expand the voices and visions represented in the architecture.

Edra Soto is a Puerto-Rican born artist, curator, educator, and co-director of the outdoor project space, The Franklin. Soto instigates meaningful, relevant, and often difficult conversations surrounding socioeconomic and cultural oppression, erasure of history, and loss of cultural knowledge. Growing up in Puerto Rico, and now immersed in her Chicago community, Soto’s work has evolved to raise questions about constructed social orders, diasporic identity, and the legacy of colonialism. Soto has exhibited extensively at venues including El Museo del Barrio (NY), the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago (IL), ICA San Diego, (CA) and the Whitney Museum of American Art (NY). She has been awarded the Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship, the Illinois Arts Council Agency Fellowship, the inaugural Foundwork Artist Prize, the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant and the Bemis Center’s Ree Kaneko Award among others. Soto exhibited and traveled to Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Cuba as part of the MacArthur Foundation’s International Connections Fund. Soto holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño de Puerto Rico. The artist lives and works in Chicago.

For more information, see

[Photo above by EUGENE TANG: Installation view of “Edra Soto: Destination / El Destino, A decade of Graft,” 2023, at Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago.]

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