Edra Soto

Artist in Residence, 2017

Artist Statement

My work is motivated by constructed social hierarchies, diasporic identity, and colonialism, which I situate in engaging and contemplative contexts. I aim to challenge the boundaries between audience, artist, and the work itself, and to amplify the democratic potential that art has to offer. My practice walks the line between social practice, immersive installations, and architectural interventions to engage the public through my use of traditional and unusual materials. Materiality and humanity are intertwined, whereby I create an accessible experience for audiences who approach my work. Alluding to issues of class, race, cultural origins, hierarchies, and myth, I create symbolic gestures of colonization and subjugation, prompting viewers to reconsider postcolonial visual culture. These gestures are directly connected to my upbringing, personal and familial relationships, and my geographical relationships with past and present communities in Puerto Rico, United States, and the wider Caribbean.

While at Headlands

During my time at Headlands I will develop current and new work. My appreciation for multiple disciplines manifests itself not only in my visual work, but also in my philosophy on life, aiming to create possibilities for connecting diverse communities. As part of my ongoing exploration of design elements, I developed an architectural intervention that focus on the representation of Puerto Rican rejas via performative gestures. Iron rejas became ubiquitous in the architecture of post-war Puerto Rico due to the security they provided and their ability to allow for cross ventilation. Today, these iron rejas are viewed not so much as a protection device, but as a language that pertains to the island’s visual culture. By transplanting rejas to locations in places outside Puerto Rico, this architectural interventions recalls the aesthetic and nostalgic qualities of these rejas for expatriates and points to overlooked histories of conquest and enslavement.