Edra Soto (b. Puerto Rico) is an 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, which are motivated by civic and social actions, focus on fostering relationships with a wide range of communities. Soto holds an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a bachelors degree from Escuela de Artes Plastics de Puerto Rico. She teaches Introduction to Social Engagement at University of Illinois in Chicago and is a Lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Portrait by Abbi Chase
Edra Soto & Westinghouse College Prep
The work, titled ‘Present’, is a collection of drawings that memorializes my brief conversations with art students from Lisa Pennell’s art class at George Westinghouse College Prep. Having worked as a high school teacher for 10 years; living steps away from this College Prep and my perpetual interest in connecting with diverse communities lead me to finally engage with this group of students.
Our conversations were more about my curiosity to get to know them, where they came form, and how they felt about East Garfield Park, our neighborhood.
The ‘Present’ collection is based on an archival project I created 15 years ago titled ‘A Year in Review’. This project consisted on the documentation of the year 2004 by sourcing photographs published in the Chicago Sun Times. The photographs are traced to a piece of soft metal resembling a contemporary version of a Mexican milagro. Traditional milagros are small charms used as a votive offerings or for healing purposes. The powerful significance attached to these soft pieces of pushed metal prompted me to respond in a contemporary context, enduring their sincere sentimental value.