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From Quiebrasoles to Rejas: An Exploration of Afro-Caribbean Architecture and Culture

July 13, 2023 @ 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Join us for a virtual discussion with our Destination/El Destino: A Decade of GRAFT exhibition artist, Edra Soto, and New York based architect and educator, Cruz Garcia. Soto and Garcia will discuss the nostalgic inspirations behind Soto’s GRAFT installations and their foundation in Puerto Rican and afro-diasporic cultural aesthetics in relation to colonial and post colonial architecture and theory. Through this conversation, Soto and Cruz will engage in a critical discussion centering modern ornamental design and functionality, and how cultural awareness and conservation can incorporate and impact “la voz el pueblo” (the people’s voice).

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About Edra Soto

Edra Soto is a Puerto-Rican born artist, curator, educator, and co-director of the outdoor project space, The Franklin. Soto instigate meaningful, relevant, and often difficult conversations surrounding socioeconomic and cultural oppression, erasure of history, and loss of cultural knowledge. Growing up in Puerto Rico, and now immersed in her Chicago community, Soto’s work has evolved to raise questions about constructed social orders, diasporic identity, and the legacy of colonialism. 

Soto has exhibited extensively at venues including El Museo del Barrio (NY), the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago (IL), ICA San Diego, (CA), Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling (NY) and the Whitney Museum of American Art (NY). She has been awarded the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant, the Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship, the Illinois Arts Council Agency Fellowship, the inaugural Foundwork Artist Prize, the Bemis Center’s Ree Kaneko Award and the US LatinX Art Forum Fellowship among others. Soto exhibited and traveled to Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Cuba as part of the MacArthur Foundation’s International Connections Fund. Soto has attended residency programs at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, ME, Beta-Local, PR, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency, FL, Headlands Center for the Arts, NY, Project Row Houses, TX and Art Omi, NY, among others. Upcoming exhibitions include her participation at the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Untitled Miami Beach with Morgan Lehman Gallery and Art Basel Miami Beach with Luis De Jesus Los Angeles. 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. The artist lives and works in Chicago.

About Cruz Garcia

Cruz Garcia is an afro-Puerto Rican architect, artist, curator, educator, author, and theorist. Together with Nathalie Frankowski he is co-founding director of WAI Architecture Think Tank, a planetary studio that questions the political, historical, and material legacy and imperatives of architecture, urbanism the built, and destroyed environment. Together with their child Ema Yuizarix, they run WAI among several other platforms of public engagement that include the alternative trade school LOUDREADERS, and the antidisciplinary collective Post-Novis.

Their work has been part of exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou Metz, Neues Museum Nuremberg, Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology Lisbon, Museum of Modern Art New York, the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, and the Venice Architecture Biennale. Garcia is faculty of the AAD program at Columbia GSAPP and Associate Professors at Iowa State University he is Design for Critical Futures Fellow in Activism.

They are authors of A Manual of Anti-Racist Architecture Education, Narrative Architecture: A Kynical Manifesto, Pure Hardcore Icons: A Manifesto on Pure Form in Architecture, the upcoming book Universal Principles of Architecture: 100 Archetypes, Methods, Conditions, Relationships, and Imaginaries, and co-editors of the Journal of Architectural Education issue on Reparations! and InForma Journal issue on Networks of Solidarity.

Learn more more about Cruz at: and 

This program is in conjunction with our exhibition, Destination/El Destino: A Decade of GRAFT

Destination/El Destino: A Decade of GRAFT offers a mid-project survey of the GRAFT series to date by artist Edra Soto. A native of Puerto Rico, Soto began the GRAFT series to address the complex sentiments generated from migrating to the US while remaining connected to family on the island—a feeling of dislocation compounded by Puerto Rico’s ambiguous status as an unincorporated territory of the United States. Soto titled the series GRAFT, which means to move living tissue from one side to another, to imagine the transplant of her homeland to the place she now lives, Chicago. The geometric patterns consistent in Soto’s work are representative of the decorative architecture ubiquitous among houses throughout Puerto Rico. These patterns have been traced to African symbols transported through colonial trade routes. Over time, Soto has deepened the concept of GRAFT to discuss the overlooked influence of Afro-diasporic cultures on Puerto Rico’s architecture and identity in addition to the transplantation of Puerto Rican identity onto US territory and culture. Learn more here.


Hyde Park Art Center
5020 South Cornell Avenue, Chicago, IL 60615
Chicago, IL 60615 US
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