The opening reception for three new exhibitions at University Galleries will be from 5–7 p.m. Tuesday, February 21. The reception, which is free and open to the public, will feature performances by Edra Soto and a team of collaborators, as well as Andy Roche and Selina Trepp.

Deb Sokolow

Deb Sokolow’s text-based drawings and collages are based on purposeful research and humorous conjecture about cultural icons and everyday people, mysterious moments and alternate histories, distant places and nearby spaces. Schematics, Surveillance, Murder, features four multi-panel drawings ranging from 6- to 27-feet wide, which were made between 2012 and 2016. Each includes a reference to the art world cast in a strange or outright criminal context.

Individually, these works: fantasize that an artist residency is a brainwashing station for an international ring of art thieves; speculate about the occupants of her studio building and the development of a cult in her neighborhood; touch upon an unfortunate entanglement between an artist and the CIA; and imagine a scenario in which the CIA planned to use a sculpture to assassinate a foreign leader.

Edra Soto

Edra Soto is a Chicago-based artist, educator, and curator who “aims to challenge the boundaries between audience, artist, and the work itself to amplify the democratic potential that art has to offer.” She uses both traditional and unconventional materials—including plastic chairs upholstered with beach towels or pineapple upside-down cake—to create sculptures, installations, and architectural interventions that foster accessibility and encourage public participation. Soto, who often incorporates the visual culture of her native Puerto Rico, identifies issues of “class, race, cultural origins, hierarchies, and myth” as integral to her work.

She is collaborating with students, faculty, and community members to realize a new iteration of her Manual GRAFT installation in the windows of University Galleries. They will use metallic adhesive to create a geometric design in the windows based on the iron rejas (screens) she cites as ever-present in the architecture of post-war Puerto Rico.

Allison Lacher and Jeff Robinson

With its seven framed-out wooden façades,­­ Jeff Robinson (ISU MFA, 2011) and Allison Lacher’s Subdivision transforms two galleries into a faux neighborhood where, on a weekly basis, additional artists are invited to manipulate one of the home-like structures in any manner of their choosing. Subdivision will continually evolve during its six-week duration as the artists selected by Lacher and Robinson incrementally build upon, alter, or reinvent one of the aforementioned sculptures “causing,” according to Robinson and Lacher, “the exhibition to develop in ways not entirely within anyone’s control.”

In the last week of the exhibition, the “subdivision” will have changed from a conglomeration of similar architectural forms to a mash-up of different aesthetics, styles, practices, materials, and tastes—from a series of houses to a community of neighbors.

Soto’s exhibition is co-sponsored by the Harold K. Sage Foundation and the Illinois State University Foundation Fund. Programs at University Galleries are funded in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

All events at University Galleries are free and open to the public. Free curator-led exhibition tours are available during all of our exhibitions. For more information, visit our website or call (309) 438-5487.