The Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design (SOFA) Fair held its 25th exhibition from November 1 - November 4, 2018 on the Navy Pier. The fair featured works from museums, colleges, and art organizations. Works from the event included three-dimensional sculptures, ceramics, glass blown objects, paintings, jewelry, decorative arts, and mixed media.
My time at SOFA was absolutely amazing. This being my second time attending the fair, I thought I had an idea of what to expect, but I was instantly proven wrong upon entering. I was once again blown away by SOFA. After getting a little lost and confused in the streets of Chicago, I arrived at the fair to be greeted with a room that glorified art. The entrance of the fair held a glassblowing demonstration by the Corning Museum of Glass. A little further on, the path diverged into a series of other paths that led to different allies of work. It was truly inspirational to see such a diverse body of artwork in a single room. SOFA bordered on almost an overload of information because of how much artwork was present on site. As much as I would have liked to fully absorb the art forever in my mind, the majority of my recollection was limited to my camera. I can’t say that there have not been a lot of times that I have been lost. In reality, I found myself lost more often than not. However, getting lost at SOFA was the best kind of lost there can be. It was like a dog exploring the outdoors; they have no idea where they are, yet they fully enjoy the experience. On November 3, 2018, I was a dog. I was drooling (metaphorically) over art, exploring the unknown, and fetching knowledge.
The greatest part of the fair is seeing how artists globally express themselves in creative forms. Some of my favorite pieces were ones that used unconventional mediums for the work. Like a series of everyday objects constructed out of painted screws. Or a collage of crayons or collages made out of candy wrappers. A theme of work I saw revolved around innovation or utilizing materials in a new fashion. The work that caught my eye focused on reflective surfaces like using mirrors to create extra dimensional effect. The layered glass work was something I remembered from my experience at SOFA two years prior and was a category I looked forward to seeing again. The work is layers of glass with small colored pieces in the center and when light is reflecting on the work, stunning shadows are revealed by the light refracted through the glass.
One of Illinois Tech’s third-year architecture studios entered the SOFA CONNECT, a competition that highlights six college design programs across the United States. CONNECT asked students to create a seating and lighting installation. Within the mass of the rest of the SOFA Fair, in the back corner lie an oasis of relaxation. The works from the six schools were kept in the back of the exhibition hall and taking a couple of moments to sit back on some unconventional seating was a serene experience. It’s crazy to see how different each of the seating and lighting spaces were. Each school focused on an abstract concept and extruded it into a functional area. Even though I am proud of Illinois Tech for winning this year’s CONNECT, my personal favorite was the arrangement made by the Columbus College of Art & Design. Their proposed solution to the task was an installation that focused on the notion of online shopping and was comprised of Amazon box seating and bubble wrap cushions. As I sat on the Amazon throne, resting and recharging, commerce related imagery flashed above me and really got me thinking: why do I waste my time perusing the Internet for, essentially, useless goods and information when I am engulfed in a world of beauty? I never pictured that bubble wrap would emanate so many feelings from me, yet it really made me stop and think about how swamped I have become in an urban lifestyle.
The SOFA Fair consolidated a fact that I lost in myself: I love art. After inhaling so much artwork, I remember that I love looking at art and more importantly, creating art. I encourage everyone to create something. Anything, really. For all you know, you might learn something in the process. And while you're out there creating art, mark your calendars for October 31- November 3, 2019 because the SOFA Fair will be back in town.