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Annual alumni award named in honor of Ree Kaneko, Bemis Center co-founder, first Executive Director, and Board Member Emerita.

Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts is pleased to announce Edra Soto as its 2022 Ree Kaneko Award winner. This annual award is bestowed to artists that have participated in Bemis's exhibition or residency programs and is named in honor of Ree Kaneko, Bemis Center co-founder, first Executive Director, and Board Member Emerita. Her vision and passion embody the spirit of this unrestricted annual award designed to provide financial support to increase the capacity of a Bemis alum’s practice. Established in 2019 at 5,000 USD, the Award has blossomed to 25,000 USD thanks to individual donors committed to Bemis's ongoing support of its alumni community. The annual award is by nomination only and is selected by a panel of renowned curators and art historians.

“I am beyond thrilled to be this year’s recipient of the Ree Kaneko Award, presented by the Bemis Center. My participation at Bemis through the exhibition Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists in the Path of the Butterfly was a memorable highlight of my career. I’m forever grateful to curator Risa Puleo for including my work in this critically acclaimed exhibition that accompanies a stellar group of artists. What Bemis envisions and supports through their curatorial projects and residency program has propelled so many artistic careers at a national level throughout the years. I couldn't be prouder of being the recipient of this prestigious award," said Soto.

Edra Soto is a Puerto-Rican born artist, educator, curator, and co-director of the outdoor project space, The Franklin. Soto has exhibited extensively at venues including Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, Nebraska; El Museo del Barrio, New York; The Momentary, Arkansas; Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago, Illinois; Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico; The Arts Club of Chicago, Illinois; Chicago Botanic Garden, Illinois; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Soto's large-scale public art commission titled Screenhouse, is currently on view at Millennium Park in Chicago. The artist has attended residency programs at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine, Beta-Local, Puerto Rico, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and 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. The artist lives and works in Chicago.

Soto was an exhibiting artist in the group exhibition Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists in the Path of the Butterfly, on view at Bemis Center in 2017–18, in which her work Graftwas installed on the exterior windows of the gallery. The exhibition focused on the monarch, the only butterfly that migrates in two directions, as a geographic range and a metaphor for issues around immigration, migration, land rights and sovereignty, inheritance, and transformation. Originating at Bemis Center, the exhibition traveled to Blue Star Contemporary, San Antonio, the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas. 

“I am thrilled for artist Edra Soto to receive this significant cash award to expand the reach and impact of her multidisciplinary practice,” said Chris Cook, Bemis Center Executive Director. “Her installation at Bemis Center as part of Monarchs was powerful and subversive as it activated our first-floor windows and subtly welcomed visitors to experience the exhibition. Her work has resonated with us ever since, and I am excited Bemis will continue to support her through this award and to the bolstering of our ongoing relationship with such an inspiring artist.”

Bemis alumni artists were nominated for the 2022 Ree Kaneko Award and the winner was selected by Tyler Blackwell, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky; Rujeko Hockley, Arnhold Associate Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Jamilee Lacy, Director and CEO, Frye Art Museum, Seattle, Washington; and Rachel Adams, Chief Curator and Director of Programs, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, Nebraska.

*There will be a conversation held with Edra Soto: March 9, 6–7pm


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