This summer, we invited Edra Soto to be one of five women artists to visit Spudnik Press and collaboratively produce a new edition of prints as part of our Oct. 1 Suffragette Social Benefit Auction. Edra’s most recent projects have taken the form of installation, performance, and curation, so we were unsure what form her print would take. We settled on producing a handful of one-of-a-kind garments, reminiscent of simple house dresses, featuring golden panthers and shaded palm leaves.
While we didn’t realize that this is officially “Edra Soto’s Really Good Year,” we have long known that Chicago is lucky to have this amazing woman as part of our community! She is thoughtful, smart and enthusiastic, and perhaps best of all, she cannot help but pass along her positive energy to those around her. As we gear up for our October 1 auction, we are excited to share this short conversation between Edra and Spudnik Founder & Executive Director, Angee Lennard:
Angee Lennard (AL): Spudnik Press just finished publishing your newest print project, a printed one-of-a-kind garment. What was most surprising about the collaboration or how the project unfolded?
Edra Soto (ES): I have been overwhelmed by this organizations professionalism and generous approach to the artists they select to collaborate with. Having your work reproduced and being able to keep few editions in exchange for a piece of your work is a remarkable, fair but very generous as well.
AL: You have lots of projects going on this fall (The Annual at CAC, The Chicago Arts Club Centennial Celebration, RenBen 2016), plus you are curating a booth featuring 25 SAIC alumni. Will people find any of your personal artwork at EXPO?
ES: Not precisely at EXPO, but at Silent Funny. I am a part of a very cool group exhibition titled Minimum Requirement. This exhibition revolves around the ethos of accessibility and an interdisciplinary school of thought and is curated by Amir George and Anansi Knowbody. I am recreating a cardboard tent that was made by a guy named Tyler Tyclark I’ve met in Downtown Chicago. His tent was titled Let’s Stop the Violence and has avery democratic way of gathering signatures and any information people want to disclaim about their experience with violence. I found his gesture to be so effective because it almost functioned as a collective public letter. On top of this humbly made out of cardboard piece, he placed lolly pops and sharpies for people to write. I found myself cut up in the moment and talk to him for a little bit. I congratulated him for doing something. I thought I can use this exhibition opportunity to pay forward Tyler’s kind gesture against our city’s violence.
AL: When I visited The Franklin, in addition to Mike Rea’s exhibition, I was struck by your amazing collection of art. How or why did you start collecting art? And do you consider yourself an Art Collector?
ES: An accidental collector! I started collecting by trading work with other artists or buying work at non profit organizations for affordable prices. Years later my husband and I found ourselves with a significant collection that is a true reflection of my relationship with the artist run culture here in Chicago. Our goal is to archive and document this collection and eventually create a publication accessible to the public.
What I love about our collection is that is private, but having THE FRANKLIN in proximity allowed us to turn the private unto a public situation. The work being available for public viewing perpetuates the life of the collected work that once was intended to be enjoyed privately.
AL: You are both an artist and a curator. Do you see these as two different roles that you switch between or are they fluid/inseparable?
ES: Yes. I attribute my affinity for curation to my affinity for installation art and how satisfying is for me to transform spaces for public viewing. Also, I am a raving art fanatic, so it is a very pleasurable exercise to bring together work from different artist. I did my first official installation when I was a student at SAIC. I was looking at artists studios, curious about what they were making and I had an incredible urge to combine a series of them and create an installation…which I did. It was a group of woman artists and the exhibition was analogous to a hair salon.
AL: What piece from our auction would you be most excited to take home from The Suffragette Social?
ES: I would love to take home one of each of the three letter press pieces of Cheryl Pope Truth As Evidence: Voices of Incarcerated Youth.
AL: What women artists are you most excited about these days?