Ishmael H. Soto (1932-2017)
Ishmael Soto was a gifted artist whose sculptures and vessels in clay, metal, and wood were widely exhibited, winning numerous awards throughout his lifetime. In 2007 at the age of 75, he hosted a 50th Anniversary Retrospective Exhibition, “Vessels and Inspirations: Ceramic and Sculptural Work of Ishmael Soto,” at the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin. In 2011 Austin’s Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC) presented an Exhibition of Mayan-Inspired Copper and Clay Sculptures and Drawings that paid tribute to his cultural heritage and his fascination with Mayan art. Ishmael held 57 Annual Studio Show and Sale Exhibitions at the various studios he built over his lifetime, from East 3rd Street and Westlake in Austin, to his final studio in Blue near Lexington, Texas.
Named to the Austin Arts Hall of Fame in 2007, Ishmael was also honored that year by a City of Austin Proclamation designating January 19, 2007 as “Ishmael Soto Day for his Contribution to Education and the Arts.” In 2016 he received an award from Austin Community College in recognition of his 30 years of teaching and was also honored by inclusion on the MACC’s “Wall of Excellence of Latino Artists.”
Ishmael was a master teacher, admired and loved by his students for his teaching style that encouraged creativity and exploration of each student’s own talents. Years after studying with Ishmael, students would recall him as someone who changed their lives, sometimes influencing their career paths towards a life in the arts.