October 29 - November 26, 2018
at the Chicago Athletic Association

“Motivated by seeing the excessive amounts of litter and detritus in my neighborhood, I created the project Open 24 Hours. The project’s name refers to the accumulation of litter visible to everyone, at all times, in East Garfield Park, a historic African American neighborhood in Chicago. I have lived in my beloved neighborhood with my husband for more than 10 years. The above quote for me connects my observations to a long history of cultural marginalization, exchange, and revival that embraces what could have been erased.

Every morning, while walking my dogs, I see all types of trash and refuse on the ground. The glass liquor bottles glimmer and are intact, as if someone carefully placed them on the ground. These bottles are undeniably beautiful. I’ve decided to collect only liquor bottles that I could clean and strip of their brand labels. As evidence of my collecting, I keep a record that states the date and brands of the bottles I find. After washing them, I group them together according to the date that they were found and later photograph them against a white backdrop.

Placing the bottles in a still-life format allows me to provide an accessible entrance that is recognizable to viewers. Also, by removing the brand labels from the bottles, it obscures the type of liquor that the bottle held and deters viewers from presuming a particular demographic. My impulse is to be civic-minded. Recording my process is an intimate insight of my everyday reality and those of my neighbors. Finding a significant historical connection between cognac – the predominant type of liquor bottles I find in East Garfield Park, with my African American neighbors – evokes a sense of empathy for the consumption of these bottles as complex forms of pleasure, interconnections, and escape from socio-economic oppression.”

Edra Soto (b. Puerto Rico) is a Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist, educator, curator, and co-director of the outdoor project space The Franklin. She is invested in creating and providing visual and educational models propelled by empathy and generosity. Her recent projects are motivated by civic and social actions focus on fostering relationships with a wide range of communities.

Recent venues presenting Soto’s work include the Pérez Art Museum Miami (FL), Hunter East Harlem Gallery (NY), UIC Gallery 400 (IL), Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (NE), DePaul Art Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago (IL). Most recently, Soto was awarded the Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship, the DCASE for Individual Artist Grant from the City of Chicago and the 3Arts Foundation Make A Wave Grant.

Soto has attended residency programs at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (ME), Beta-Local (PR), the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency (FL), Arts/Industry at the Kohler Art Center (WI), Ragdale Foundation (IL) and Art OMI (NY) amongst others. During the fall of 2017, her project Open 24 Hours was commissioned by Headlands Center for the Arts (CA) to be presented at their Project Space as part of her residency. Also during 2017, Project Row Houses (TX) hosted her residency as part of the 222 Exchange Program in partnership with the Hyde Park Art Center (IL).

Her co-curation for the exhibition Present Standard at the Chicago Cultural Center was praised with overwhelmingly positive reviews from the Chicago Tribune, Newcity, PBS The Art Assignment and Artforum. Soto was recently featured in Newcity’s annual Art 50 issue Chicago’s Artists’ Artists and at VAM Studio 2017 Influencers.

She is a lecturer for the Contemporary Practices Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, from where she earned an MFA. Her bachelors degree comes from Escuela de Artes Plastics de Puerto Rico.

(Bio courtesy of edrasoto.com.)