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Center Days

April 22, 2023 @ 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Join us for our Spring Center Day on April 22! Center Days is a family-friendly day of intergenerational art making activities, artist workshops and talks, open studios, exhibition celebrations, and community collaborations. Our Spring Center Day will celebrate the openings of Edra Soto’s Destination/El Destino: a decade of GRAFT, Amuleto, and the 2023 Veteran’s Triennial, Surviving The Long Wars: Unlikely Entanglements. 

Visitors will also have the opportunity to meet and visit the studios of our new Radicle Residents, Eric Perez, Sofía Fernández Díaz, Kushala Vora, and Rhonda Wheatley, and our Jackman Goldwasser Creative Wing Artists, Heather Smith, Candace Hunter, zakkiyyah najeebah dumas o’neal, Juarez Hawkins, and Malika Jackson.

RSVP for Center Days here. 

Creative Wing Open Studios with Resident Artists

Come and meet the new artists working in our Jackman Goldwasser Creative Wing! Visit with our Radicle Residents, Eric Perez, Sofía Fernández Díaz, Kushala Vora, and Rhonda Wheatley, and our Guida Family Creative Wing studio artists, Heather Smith, Candace Hunter, zakkiyyah najeebah dumas o’neal, Juarez Hawkins, and Malika Jackson.

Exhibition Celebrations for Destination/El Destino: a decade of GRAFT, Amuleto, and Surviving The Long Wars: Unlikely Entanglements

Join us to celebrate our latest exhibitions! Meet some of the artists and curators to learn more about the work featured in our Winter shows. 

About the Exhibitions:
Destination/El Destino: a decade of GRAFT

The solo exhibition Destination/El Destino: a decade of GRAFT concentrates on the decade-long series of artworks by Chicago-based, Puerto Rican artist, educator, and organizer Edra Soto, while speculating on the evolution of this work towards establishing more emotionally transformative and healing public spaces. Activating the indoor/outdoor feature of the main gallery, Soto will build an immersive installation of porous sculptures, documentary photographs, drawings and games that create a playful and open environment for discussing cultural hybridity.

Through the GRAFT series of sculptures, wall reliefs and installations, Edra Soto explores vernacular architecture familiar to the artist’s native Puerto Rico to address the adaptability and hybridity of cultural representation. GRAFT makes reference to two common domestic architectural elements: the quiebrasoles, which are distinctly ornate concrete blocks, and rejas, ornamental grilles or screens typically made of wrought iron. Both are arranged in decorative geometric patterns to create shade or act as a protective barrier between the street and the home. Recent iterations of GRAFT include small viewfinders embedded in the void of geometric patterns in Soto’s installations. In peering through the viewfinders, the audience is met with images of Soto’s childhood home, scenes from various neighborhoods, destruction from hurricane Maria, screenshots of television commercials, and magazine advertisements. In previous GRAFT work, all photo documentation has come from Soto’s personal archive. For Destination/El Destino, Soto will collaborate with Puerto Rican and US-based artists to include their photographs and expand the voices and visions represented in the architecture.

About the Exhibition:

Amuleto is a collaboration between the independent art spaces The Franklin, Mayfield, and Hyde Park Art Center to present artwork by artists that address the ideas of the amulet/amuleto: portable objects that are attributed to magical, emotional, or sentimental value. Civilizations have believed in the energy of amulets going all the way back to ancient times. These talismans are often worn to aid or protect their wearer or given a spiritual significance that varies from person to person and is symbolically compared to armor. How do contemporary artists incorporate the alchemy of artifacts in their work?

This exhibition concept originated from the artists Edra Soto, Madeleine Aguilar, and Alberto Aguilar in relation to their own art practices and how they consider found, personal objects to be infused with power from memories generated from the object’s history of use or existence. The exhibition will take place in three companion shows spread throughout the three venues in the spring/summer of 2023 and run simultaneously at the Art Center with the solo exhibition Destination/El Destino: A Decade of Graft by Edra Soto.

Surviving The Long Wars: Unlikely Entanglements
About the Exhibition: 

SURVIVING THE LONG WARS: Unlikely Entanglements reveals the connections that emerge between personal and collective histories of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities marked by the legacies of the two longest wars in US history—the “American Indian Wars” and the “Global War on Terror.” 

Visual parallels and connections surface—from contrasting viewpoints and across differences—between artworks by civilians impacted by these long wars and BIPOC military veterans. These “unlikely entanglements” highlight the aesthetic affinities that form between different histories, geographies, and peoples resisting colonialism. The featured artists use collage, embroidery, soft sculpture, and installation to unravel dominant histories of militarism while weaving together intimate stories of survival and resistance. Collectively, these consequential artworks of wartime survivors and their descendants conjure meaning out of the traumatic afterlives of the long wars while creating space for solidarity and alternative futures.

Unlikely Entanglements is one of the three featured exhibitions of the second Veteran Art Triennial, SURVIVING THE LONG WARS. From the “American Indian Wars” to the “Global War on Terror,” SURVIVING THE LONG WARS explores the multiple, overlapping histories that shape our understanding of warfare, as well as alternative visions of peace, healing, and justice generated by diverse and entangled communities impacted by war. The other exhibitions include Residues and Rebellions at the Newberry Library and Reckon and Reimagine at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Art Making Activity: Tin Impressions with Keny De La Peña

Drawing inspiration from Edra Soto’s El Destino: A Decade of GRAFT, and her practice using tin foil as a medium, artist, Keny De La Peña will lead an art making workshop where participants will draw using tin as their canvas. Images from Soto’s GRAFT series, and other motifs special to her practice, like glass bottles and signature patterns will be used as starting points for designs by tracing a printed image set over a piece of foil to create an embossed effect.

About Keny De La Peña:

Keny De La Peña is a Los Angeles raised interdisciplinary artist. They hold an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BA in World Arts and Cultures from UCLA. He uses visual and choreographic practices to create spaces where the fragility of history comes into contact with the subjunctive, or the world of the imagined. Through this, exploring the tensions between popular culture, folklore, and myth.

Art Making Activity: Embroidery Circle with Sabba S. Elahi

Contribute to artist Sabba S. Elahi’s embroidery project to memorialize the names of civilians–women and children–who were killed by US drone attacks in Pakistan. Since 2014, Elahi has worked with the online archive, “Naming the Dead,” published by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. The archive highlights individual stories that inform Elahi’s communal art project.

Sabba Elahi’s embroidery circle is suited for guests of all experience levels. The session will balance both basic stitch designs and free form designs. Guests are encouraged to attend for the duration of the workshop to allow for organic dialogue among participants. All materials will be provided. All are welcome.

About Sabba S. Elahi

Sabba S. Elahi is a multi-disciplinary visual artist, educator, and cultural worker who grew up in a traditional Pakistani household in the Midwest. Her artwork and teaching confronts the politics of otherization, representation, and cultural resistance. As a cultural worker she seeks to complicate the narratives of the South Asian Diaspora, Muslim Americans, and to center the voices of communities who have been marginalized. Elahi’s exhibitions include group shows at the Chicago Cultural Center, Hyde Park Art Center, Prizm Miami Art Fair, Abrons Art Center (NYC), and recent solo exhibitions at Northwestern University’s Dittmar Gallery. Sabba S. Elahi received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Exploring El Archivo with the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance

Join Wilmarie Medina Cortes of the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance for a presentation about PRAA’s archive, El Archivo Project, which was established to document, preserve, and share the history and contributions of Puerto Ricans in Chicago and the Midwest. The project seeks to acknowledge the historical presence of the community, whose narratives have often gone unrecognized within mainstream cultural institutions. This growing digital archive consists of photographs dating from the early 1900s to the 1990s. Participants will have the opportunity to view images, ask questions, and learn more about how to contribute to the project.

About Wilmarie Medina-Cortes

Wilmarie Medina-Cortes (she/they) is an independent scholar with an interest in Chicago’s Puerto Rican diaspora. She holds a Master’s in Museum and Exhibition Studies from the University of Illinois in Chicago. She currently works with the Humanities Action Lab as the Exhibitions and Program Manager. 

About the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance

Anchored in Chicago, the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance is a vibrant, 24-year-old music and arts nonprofit organization that develops culturally enriching and transforming programs, performances, exhibitions, and events inspiring 30,000 annually while encouraging future generations to grow appreciation for Puerto Rican heritage and culture. Learn more:


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