YA National Conference April 3 – April 5, 2024 | Chicago, IL
April 3 – April 5, 2024 | Chicago, IL

Featured Speakers

Jim Duignan is an artist living and working with Chicago. 

As a sculptor, photographer, publisher, friend, and educator, Duignan’s work investigates questions of history, activism, and peacemaking in urban, self-educational traditions. 

He is the founder of the artist’s project, Stockyard Institute, as well as the Art Education program at DePaul University, where Duignan teaches courses about civically-engaged education as a contemporary studio art form.

Select exhibitions include the retrospective, Stockyard Institute: 25 Years of Art and Pedagogy, DePaul Art Museum, Chicago (2021), Envisioning Justice, Sullivan Galleries, Chicago (2019), PUBLIC SCHOOL, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago (2017), Smart Museum, Chicago (2017), the Chicago Cultural Center (2017), Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland (2016), Interference Archive, Brooklyn (2015), Sullivan Galleries, Chicago (2014), Kochi-Muziris Biennial, India (2014), and the Hull House Museum, Chicago (2013).

In addition, Duignan’s work has been published in The Atlantic Monthly, The Art Newspaper, Prestel Publications (Nick Cave’s Epitome), The New York Times, Chicago Reader, New Art Examiner, Chronicle of Higher Education, New City, Chicago Tribune, and many others. His work has been recognized by the Weitz Family Foundation, Illinois Humanities, Artadia, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Edra Soto is a Puerto Rican-born artist, curator, educator, and co-director of outdoor project space The Franklin. Soto instigates meaningful, relevant, and often difficult conversations surrounding socioeconomic and cultural oppression, erasure of history, and loss of cultural knowledge. Having grown up in Puerto Rico, and now immersed in her Chicago community, the artist has evolved to raise questions through her work about constructed social orders, diasporic identity, and the legacy of colonialism.

Soto has exhibited extensively at venues including the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago (IL), El Museo del Barrio (NY), 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 Center’s Ree Kaneko Award, and the US LatinX Art Forum Fellowship among others.

As part of the MacArthur Foundation’s International Connections Fund, Soto exhibited and traveled to Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. Her recent and upcoming projects include a public art commission for the Chicago Architecture Biennial; a collaboration with poet Adalber Salas Hernandez for Lit & Luz Festival at Museo Universitario del Chopo in Mexico City; exhibitions at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pennsylvania and ICA Maine College of Art in Maine and a Public Art Commission for Public Art Fund at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza in Central Park, New York. 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.