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Edra Soto. Photo by Georgia Hampton.

Puerto Rican born, Edra Soto is an interdisciplinary artist and co-director of the outdoor project space The Franklin. Her recent projects, which are motivated by civic and social actions, prompt viewers to reconsider cross-cultural dynamics, the legacy of colonialism, and personal responsibility. Recent venues presenting Soto’s work include Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art's satellite, The Momentary (Arkansas); Albright-Knox Northland (New York); Chicago Cultural Center (Illinois); Smart Museum (Illinois); the Museum of Contemporary Photography (Illinois) and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago, (Illinois). In 2019, Soto completed the public art commission titled Screenhouse on view at the Millennium Park, Boeing Gallery North through April 2022. Soto has attended residency programs at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (Maine), Beta-Local (Puerto Rico), the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency (Florida), Headlands Center for the Arts, (California), Project Row Houses (Texas) and Art Omi (New York) among others. Soto was awarded the 2016 Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship, the 2019 Illinois Arts Council Agency Fellowship, the 2019 inaugural Foundwork Artist Prize and the 2020 Joan Mitchell Foundation Painting and Sculpture Grant among others. Between 2019-2020 Soto’s work was included in three exhibitions supported by the MacArthur Foundation’s International Connections Fund: Repatriation at Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, Cross Currents at the Smart Museum, and Close to There in Salvador, Brazil. 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. 


About OPEN 24 HOURS:

“Cognac’s relationship with African American consumers started later, when black soldiers stationed in southwest France were introduced to it during both world wars. The connection between cognac producers and black consumers was likely bolstered by the arrival of black artists and musicians like Josephine Baker, who filled Paris clubs with jazz and blues during the interwar years … France appreciated these distinctive art forms before the U.S. did, continuing a French tradition dating back to Alexis de Tocqueville of understanding aspects of American culture better than Americans did. For African Americans, the elegant cognac of a country that celebrated their culture instead of marginalizing it must have tasted sweet … During the 1990s, cognac sales were slow, and the industry was battling an image populated by fusty geriatrics. Then references to cognac began surfacing in rap lyrics, a phenomenon that peaked in 2001 with Busta Rhymes and P. Diddy’s hit “Pass the Courvoisier,” causing sales of the brand to jump 30 percent. During the next five years, other rappers teamed up with brands, and increased overall sales of cognac in the U.S. by a similar percentage, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.”


Reid Mitenbuler, author of Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey—




"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—



Former iterations of Open 24 Hours:


Open 24 Hours | Albright-Knox Northland
Open 24 Hours | Chicago Athletic Association
Open 24 Hours | Headlands Project Space

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