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Hartford Art School Celebrates Resident Artist Jonathan Herrera Soto in Solo Exhibition

February 09, 2024
Jonathan Herrera Soto, Brindis, 2023, Installation view, Courtesy of the artist, Photography by Pat Garcia Jr.
Jonathan Herrera Soto, Brindis, 2023, Installation view, Courtesy of the artist, Photography by Pat Garcia Jr.

The Georgette and Richard Koopman Distinguished Chair in the Visual Arts is an annual residency program that brings prominent artists to teach at the Hartford Art School. During his tenure as the 2023–24 Koopman Chair in the Printmaking Department, Jonathan Herrera Soto has taught classes that prioritize the process of experimentation and play by exploring the value of misprints, or “the poor image." His pedagogical approach focuses on the little things in a creative practice: sketches, thumbnails, mistakes, uncertainties, and unfinished thoughts—an archive he believes is the most important source from which we learn. As experimental fragments, failed attempts, and unconscious scribbles collect and grow, this collection coheres into a shape—the shape of an archive.  

For the exhibition Twice the Legal Minute, Herrera Soto brings together objects, prints, found material, and drawings to form the shape of an archive rooted in the aesthetics of accumulation, debris, and neglect. In a composition, artists often deploy learned techniques to distinguish shapes in figure/ground relationships. There needs to be a line, a value, a contour (something!) to distinguish one plane from another. In treating the entire space of the gallery as compositional terrain, Herrera Soto obscures that figure/ground relationship. The edges—in singular works of art and the gallery at large—become porous, forming rifts that redirect attention to, in the words of Hito Steyerl, what a work of art does, not what it shows.  

What Herrera Soto’s work does in Twice the Legal Minute is grapple with the stakes of (mis)translation. The exhibition’s title stems from an Internet video that went viral for a communication blunder when an arrestee mishears a police officer tell him that he is “twice over the legal minute” (instead of “limit”). For a split moment, both individual’s realities collide and compete for legitimacy. Herrera Soto asks what can be learned from this moment when a slippage in language creates a fault line in social space, when multiple paradoxical—and yet plausible—realities exist at once.  

The work of translating a thought, an idea, or a print inevitably creates new sets of obstacles towards understanding. Hence, the word twice in the exhibition title also references the repetitive nature of translation, an exercise of communication spoken (at least) twice: once outward to articulate, and once when received to decipher. In the exhibition, this stutter is echoed through the visual language of multiplicity, splitting, and repetition, reflecting the artist’s attempts to reckon with the material biproducts of the labor (love) of translation. Thus, for Herrera Soto, mistranslations are not oddities or glitches to be corrected; they are the very compositional tools that give shape to our world. 

The exhibition and associated programming are made possible by the Georgette and Richard Koopman Distinguished Chair in the Visual Arts fund held by Hartford Art School Endowment, Inc.  

Jonathan Herrera Soto (b. 1994, Chicago) lives and works in New Haven, Conn. He received an MFA from The Yale School of Art in Painting & Printmaking and a BFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Solo exhibitions of Herrera Soto’s work include In Between / Underneath at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and All at Once at Cohen Gallery, Brown University. He recently received the Yale Prison Education Initiative Fellowship, Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship, Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship, and is currently the Koopman Distinguished Chair in the Visual Arts at the Hartford Art School. His work will be featured in the upcoming group exhibition, No Bodies, at Real Art Ways in Hartford.  

The Joseloff Gallery is located in the Harry Jack Gray Center at the University of Hartford. It is free and open to the public Monday-Thursday, noon-6 p.m.; and Friday–Saturday, 1–5 p.m. For more information, visit hartford.edu/gallery. 

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