Excess of Joy: an exhibition of new work by Edra Soto
27 – March 26, 2014
27, 6-8pm (artist talk at 6pm)
The work of Edra Soto strives to form a parallel between the
basic materials that the artist uses and her Caribbean, African, Spanish and
Anglo-American influences and heritage. Her work tends to draw upon childhood
memories and her religious upbringing. Soto aims to create a space of
reflection by bringing together a rich environment of images and shapes that
were made in a simple and basic manner.
Along these lines, Excess of Joy depicts portraits
as masks, influenced by African and Caribbean imagery. Culturally omnipresent,
masks possess the qualities of being protective archetypal devices for either a
living organism or a myth. Soto amplifies her moral and emotional concerns by
confectioning an image that is made with simple materials: gouache, graphite
and paper, and influenced by the symmetrical architecture predominant in
ecclesiastic art that the artist frequented during her formative years.
Excess of Joy brings together Soto’s latest drawings and
a sound piece: respectively, dual comedy portraits, followed by the sound of
Soto’s laughter coming from a record player. Produced in an edition of 250, the
artist invites the audience to play the 7” record from a turntable while
viewing the exhibition.
The first iteration of
Edra Soto’s Graft, a wood screen reminiscent of a wrought iron gate was installed
at Terrain, a residential exhibition space in Oak Park. Much like the
theatrical device of a scrim, Graft functioned as a wrought iron metal screen where
it created a breathable barrier between these two exterior zones.
Wrought iron, an easily
malleable steel alloy is a common material that was utilized to make many early
structures and bridges especially in 19th Century Chicago.In terms of both structure and
aesthetics, the patterns created at this time with this alloy were the result
of an important dialogue between the dominant schools of the Beaux Art and the Polytechnique,
helped to mold the re-emergent city of Chicago.Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright evolved these
geometries within stained glass and screens, by abstracting nature and
referencing the horizontality of the landscape. Wright also created screens
within the interior space that were often made out of wood borne out of his
deep devotion for Japanese design.
In Graft II, Edra Soto continues to
reference this visual dialogue of interlocking geometries by infusing them with
the flavor that only a rich storyteller can offer.The patterns here are playful and infuse the interior space with
her own unique personal style.Born in Puerto Rico, Edra Soto’s patterns are imbedded with a steeped
tradition of iron porch screen fences with layered levels of engagement. This
screened-in space functions as both a protective element as well as a logical
outgrowth of window screening.This ambiguous dialogue becomes new curb appeal for Edra’s Graft (II), which is also evidence
of the rich collective nature of Soto’s work as she actively stirs up dialogue
within her community.Architecture
at its most ideal state is made for the public and works to break boundaries
and unify communities.
Iron screens became ubiquitous in the architecture of post-war
Puerto Rico, due both to the security they provide and their ability to allow
for ventilation. Spanish decorative elements add visual flair to these
Today, these iron fences are not only viewed as protection, but
also as a piece of the island’s visual landscape. The ongoing project Graft alludes to the aesthetic and
nostalgic qualities of these iron fences for expatriates by transplanting them,
as wooden screens, to public locations in places outside Puerto Rico.
transformation occurs when removing the fences from their intended use and
their specific local tradition. The patterns take on new valences in relation
to contemporary art, while directing viewers to reconsider post-colonial visual
The Figures series are representations of shells using a single coil. As the initiator of basic forms for communal gatherings (like cups, vases and plates), the coil materializes my vision of the simplified sculpture, the iconic object and as a symbol, the Caribbean souvenir in a non-satirical disposition. The shells also possess the qualities of being protective devices for either a living organism or a myth.
For this particular setting I slightly altered the original structure of the staircase to create a shelving unit. Figure No. 12 is a 12 shell sculptures by 12 shelves structure.
New Capital, Chicago
I’ve been confectioning an idealistic representation of my wedding cake to alleviate distressing memories that the original cake brought to me during my wedding day. I bake this cake for public events and share it with friends and strangers. The effect of this action doesn't fail in conjuring some sour memories, but manages to impose itself as a celebratory centerpiece.
In celebration of my 10th Wedding Anniversary, I presented an installation of 10 wedding cakes at New Capital’s 24 HRS / 25 DAYS. The wedding cakes were displayed for visitors to consume.
The Figures series are representations of shells using a
single coil. As the initiator of basic forms for communal gatherings (like
cups, vases and plates), the coil materializes my vision of the simplified
sculpture, the iconic object and as a symbol, the Caribbean souvenir in a
non-satirical disposition. The shells also possess the qualities of being
protective devices for either a living organism or a myth.
I tend to draw upon childhood memories and my religious
upbringing for inspiration, as they are strongly embedded in the humanity of my
expression. This particular display was inspired by church votive stands.