“I have many fond memories of my time in Savannah. SCAD was instrumental in my development as an artist, and my experiences coalesced in All Lovely Things Will Have An Ending. After living for four years in Savannah, I had a mental archive of places and things that I found interesting but that I sensed were bound to disappear soon. Photographing them was a way of saying farewell to the city while preserving what I liked for posterity.” Mexico City-based Arturo Soto (work in gallery above) is back at the Savannah College of Art and Design to celebrate his first U.S. exhibition, comprising over 30 photographs for three series; the Savannah study, as well as pieces composed in London and Oxford, all part of a fall/winter program commemorating 10 years of work presented at the SCAD Museum of Art. It’s a lustrous global lineup of folks like Japan’s Izumi Kato, Columbia’s Nohemi Perez and American luminaries like sculptor Elizabeth Catlett and fashion designer Christian Siriano.

As an alumnus, Soto is a logical choice to highlight, and more so, because his work offers a unique documentation of the dynamism, the personality, if you will, of different cities, particularly riveting in a time when urban centers are being scrutinized as social bellwethers. Exploring a myriad of neighborhoods, he notes humble but heartfelt signage, flowering trees valiantly persisting in muddy yards and persistent splashes of local traditions like Día de Los Muertos and Guy Fawkes Night, and in that process, ruminating, “How do feelings bind people to a place?” Call it intuition, perception, an open mind, as Soto takes the temperature of a city, looking over and under for its individual flavors and colors. And all the while, he remembers SCAD’s Rebecca Nolan, “Whom I consider my mentor. She didn’t hold back during critiques. She truly understands the value of honesty when giving constructive feedback. I learned to pay attention to things that seem visually obvious but can be interpreted symbolically.” He recalls first looking at one of her photographs, where, “I couldn’t see past the subject matter,” until she pointed to the background, “where you could see the interstate crossing the field. I realized I hadn’t paid enough attention. It set out open-ended questions through the interplay of various visual elements. And it was this indeterminacy that made it appealing.” A sky seeking cerise bloom, a sooty window frame, and a pledge to the European Union are only pieces of a picture about hope, solidarity, struggle and more. Soto highlights just one discipline in SCAD Museum of Art’s tribute to architecture, fashion, film, graphic design, illustration, game development, jewelry, painting and sculpture. 82,118 square feet with equally big plans for the year ahead! —Gwynwed Vitello

For more information on SCAD, visit scad.edu // This article was originally published in the Winter 2022 quarterly