Central Wharf Park in Boston is set to welcome an extraordinary public art experience this September: Edra Soto's Graft. Graft is guest-curated by Pedro Alonzo with Now + There
, a Boston-based public art non-profit delivering engaging installations throughout the city.
Hailing from Puerto Rico, Edra Soto has delved deep into her cultural memory to create Graft, a collection of four sculptures that serve as benches and celebrate architectural fusion. The installation beautifully incorporates Puerto Rican palm leaves into a geometric pattern, casting playful shadows and evoking a comforting sense of the island right in the heart of Boston.
The motifs found in Graft draw inspiration from Puerto Rican rejas (wrought-iron grates) and their West African Yoruba origins, encouraging visitors to explore the complex circulations of architecture and cultural heritage. As she does in many of her works, this internationally recognized artist, curator, and educator invites the public to reconsider the origins of what are often assumed to be Puerto Rican motifs and the impact of colonialism.
"Modernity has the habit of taking credit for many ideas that predate it, said Soto. In Graft, I challenge this narrative and invite the public to reconsider the origins of what we often assume are Puerto Rican motifs."
Soto has exhibited extensively at venues including El Museo del Barrio (NY), the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago (IL), ICA San Diego, (CA), 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 Centers 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 Foundations International Connections Fund. Soto holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a bachelors degree from Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño de Puerto Rico.
Graft underscores Now + Theres commitment to transforming Boston into a public art city by supporting artistic risk-taking, promoting community dialogue, and driving cultural change, said Kate Gilbert, Executive Director of Now + There. We invite you to join us in this immersive experience; to see, to rest, to reflect and reconsider our urban landscape and the stories it carries.
The curator for Graft is Pedro Alonzo, a Boston-based independent artistic curator with an expansive portfolio of citywide initiatives who has brought his keen curatorial eye and expertise in public art to this project. His past experiences, including working with artists like Shepard Fairey, JR, Sam Durant, and Alicja Kwade, have deeply informed his approach, resulting in a thoughtful presentation of Soto's work that fully respects and amplifies her vision.
"Soto brings us elements of an exuberant tropical aesthetic to Central Wharf Park, with the palm leaf patterns based on rejas found in Puerto Rico that play beautifully with the surrounding oak trees," Alonzo said.
Central Wharf Park, located between the New England Aquarium and the Rose Kennedy Greenway, features 24 mature oak trees, providing a perfect setting for this dialogue between nature and culture. The installation will be sited throughout the park, allowing the public to engage with the art in a way that enhances their understanding of urban design and cross-cultural dynamics.