Edra Soto’s affinity for the game of dominoes inspired her to create Let Love Win, a sculpture that references the design of domino tables. Playing dominoes invites challenges, connections, and compromises among friends or strangers, it's an act of leisure as well as an exciting thrill. Let Love Win sets the stage for collaborative and competitive dynamics that emerge from play.
As a functional piece of public furniture, a distinctive characteristic of this domino table is the reference to the quiebrasoles, decorative concrete blocks found in homes around Puerto Rico, the artist's place of birth. In the caribbean, quiebrasoles are often complemented by rejas, wrought iron fences that act as a protective barrier between the street and the home. These quiebrasoles and rejas continue to resurface in Soto’s work though ongoing project GRAFT, which considers how experiences of migration and displacement are embedded in architecture. In his book, La Ciudad de Los Balcones, author Edwin R. Quiles Rodriguez notes how the use of rejas complements the layout of working-class residences made of concrete. In a recent essay about GRAFT, Albert Stabler highlights, “these residences were adapted from the Yoruba dwellings of African slaves, which were developed in Haiti and then migrated abroad with hacienda owners after the slaves revolted.” As in some of Soto’s work, viewers are invited to gather socially to consider difficult questions about home and relationships to social hierarchies and the problems of a post-Colonial world.
La Residencia is a co-located residency program in partnership with Pública. A cultural space in Santurce, Puerto Rico, Pública aims to provide a platform for local and international artists to strengthen relationships between Puerto Rico and a global audience. Over the course of eighteen months, Pública Co-Director Natalia Viera Salgado will serve as Abrons’ 2020-21 Curatorial Resident and will support the development of projects at Abrons and Pública.
Puerto Rican born, Edra Soto is an interdisciplinary artist and co-director of the outdoor project space The Franklin. Recent venues presenting Soto’s work include Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art's satellite, The Momentary (Arkansas); Albright-Knox Northland (New York); El Museo del Barrio (New York); Smart Museum (Illinois); and the Museum of Contemporary Photography (Illinois). Recently, Soto completed the public art commission titled Screenhouse currently at Millennium Park. Soto has attended residency programs at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Beta-Local, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency, Headlands Center for the Arts, Project Row Houses and Art Omi among others. Soto was awarded the Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship, the Illinois Arts Council Agency Fellowship, and the inaugural Foundwork Artist Prize and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant among others. Between 2019-2020 Soto exhibited and traveled to Brazil, Puerto Rico and Cuba as part of the MacArthur Foundation’s International Connections Fund. 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.Natalia Viera Salgado is a Puerto Rican independent curator and curatorial consultant based in New York City. She is also founder of :Pública Espacio Cultural, an independent art space in Alto del Cabro, Santurce Puerto Rico. Her art historical research focuses on contemporary art in relation to decolonial practices, architecture, social and environmental justice, and new media with a keen interest in hybrid and interdisciplinary projects. She has worked at the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, El Museo de Barrio , Art in General, Socrates Sculpture Park and The Nathan Cummings Foundation. Viera holds a MA in Curatorial Practice from the School of Visual Arts and is currently the Assistant Curator at Americas Society, New York.
Plaza Pública is presented by the Abrons Arts Center as part of La Residencia which is a collaborative residency partnership between Abrons Arts Center (New York, NY) and Pública (San Juan, PR) and made possible with funds provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This exhibition was also made possible with support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The 2020-2021 Season at Abrons Arts Center is supported, in part, by generous grants from the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the Harkness Foundation for Dance, the Jerome Foundation, the Scherman Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation, the Jerome Robbins Foundation, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, and other generous Henry Street Settlement funders. This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and support from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Image credit: Daniel Hojnacki