Edra Soto

Visiting Artist Summer Lecture Series

About the Artist

Edra Soto is a Puerto Rican-born artist, curator, educator, and co-director of 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. Having grown up in Puerto Rico and now immersed in her Chicago community, the artist has evolved to raise questions through her work about constructed social orders, diasporic identity, and the legacy of colonialism.

Soto has exhibited extensively at venues including the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago (US), El Museo del Barrio (NY, US), ICA San Diego (US), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (NY, US). She has been awarded the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant, the Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship, the Illinois Arts Council Agency Fellowship, the inaugural Foundwork Artist Prize, the Bemis Center’s Ree Kaneko Award, and the US LatinX Art Forum Fellowship, among others.

As part of the MacArthur Foundation’s International Connections Fund, Soto exhibited and traveled to Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. Her recent and upcoming projects include a public art commission for the Chicago Architecture Biennial; a collaboration with poet Adalber Salas Hernandez for Lit & Luz Festival at Museo Universitario del Chopo in Mexico City; exhibitions at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pennsylvania and The Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art & Design,and a Public Art Commission for Public Art Fund at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza in Central Park, New York. 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.

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About lazos terrenales / earthly bonds

On view at the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art & Design from July 12 – September 15, 2024, opening with a public
on Friday, July 12, from 5:00 – 7:00 pm.

In lazos terrenales / earthly bonds, Edra Soto employs the patterns and materials found in Puerto Rican architecture to examine colonial histories, diasporic identities, and constructed social orders. lazos terrenales / earthly bonds extend Soto’s ongoing series titled “Graft,” which utilizes rejas (wrought iron screens) to facilitate architectural intervention and social practice. Through the geometric patterns in these rejas—a building element common on homes, businesses, and public structures throughout Puerto Rico—Soto introduces personal and shared histories to broader audiences.

The grates, pillars, and façades in lazos terrenales / earthly bonds investigate the colonial, Indigenous, and Black lineages that inform Puerto Rican identities. Portals are hidden within the curves and shapes of Edra Soto’s sculptural works, revealing glimpses of family portraits, landscapes, and memorabilia. lazos terrenales / earthly bonds highlights cultural and personal memories and questions methods of indoctrination from colonial traditions.

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About MFA Visiting Artist Summer Summer Lecture Series

The Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art program's Summer Lecture Series brings together an international roster of visiting artists, curators, and scholars to participate in the MFA Summer Intensive in Portland Maine. In addition to critiques and studio visits with graduate candidates, Visiting Artists deliver a lecture open to all students, faculty & staff.

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