Platform: Edra Soto, GRAFT
Temporary Public Art | Anderson Hall
Artist and educator Edra Soto’s practice reflects the cultural influence of her birthplace, Puerto Rico. Drawing inspiration from vernacular architectural features known as quiebrasoles (literally, “sunbreakers”) and rejas (“bars”), Soto recontextualizes familiar forms in new settings, thereby offering alternate meanings, while inviting viewers to actively participate in the work.
This site-specific installation, titled GRAFT, is part of Soto's ongoing project to integrate art and design into existing architectural structures. Inserted in the large windows of the Farish Gallery in Anderson Hall, home to Rice University’s School of Architecture, the panels of her work extend the color and the horizontal forms of the exterior facade’s marble bands, forming a continuous white line that envelops the west side of the building. The repeating and interlacing diamond shapes are inspired by the architecture of Cupey, a barrio in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
By joining two disparate architectural styles – each specific to a discreet place Soto calls attention to feelings of displacement and strangeness felt by immigrants in a new land. Ideas of familiarity and home, and the physical, psychological and even linguistic barriers that keep one from “belonging” are evident in the combined, non-matching styles.
Interspersed throughout the structures are viewfinders featuring images of houses and portraits of everyday life in Puerto Rico. Viewers will be immersed in another context and reality, as if looking through the windows of a home. Catching a glimpse of domesticity through acts of voyeurism, audiences are invited to consider issues of privacy and surveillance.
Edra Soto, GRAFT is curated by Ylinka Barotto, Associate Curator, Moody Center for the Arts.
The Moody’s groundbreaking Platform series brings temporary, site-specific projects to the Rice University campus. Launched in 2017, Platform invites contemporary artists to respond to artworks, architectural structures, and research at Rice University.
About the Artist: Edra Soto (b. TK, Puerto Rico) is an interdisciplinary artist and co-director of the outdoor project space The Franklin. Recent venues presenting Soto’s work include Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art's satellite, The Momentary, Arkansas; Albright-Knox Northland, New York; El Museo del Barrio, New York; Smart Museum, Illinois; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Illinois. Soto’s public art commission titled Screenhouse is currently in exhibition at Chicago’s Millennium Park. Soto was awarded the Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship, the Illinois Arts Council Agency Fellowship, the inaugural Foundwork Artist Prize and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant among others. 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.