For as long as I’ve lived in Chicago I’ve explored SOFA. Usually opening night is a crowded evening full of interesting people, as well as art. Tonight was no exception, creative outfits and accessories were in abundance. I couldn’t tell how much of it was because it was SOFA, and how much was because it was also Halloween. We arrived early, and were able to have the room to spend wandering, and looping back, and slowly noting the things we liked.
1. One of the first things that Michael and I were excited to see was Pratt Institute’s submission for Connect. I noticed the big billowing cloud like ceiling portion first and my interest was piqued. As we lingered on the fringes trying to figure out if we would want to sit on the benches below the clouds a set of students from Pratt encouraged us to have a seat. Curious, we moved closer. We were to discover that the installation was meant to be a submission for a lounge space design competition called Connect. This was the first year SOFA organizers had invited design schools to participate, and compete. These Pratt students had used recycled materials that were the bountiful detritus left over from their department’s basic operation. Tubes from printer paper, and bags. Despite essentially being made of garbage, the seats were functional, and the space was devoid of color or distractions. It was a calm space to sit and take a break from the flurry of SOFA activity. Encouraged by this experience we set off to see what the other schools had designed. Learn more here: The Pratt Connect Lounge, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Iowa, & Edinburgh College of Art.
2. Porcelain Valve | Michael Schwegmann. ITAK’s Michael first noticed this piece and walked over to investigate. The artist, also named Michael, happened to be onsite and introduced himself to us. I didn’t feel the nostalgia related to this piece that Michael did. He recognized it as an irrigation valve that was common around his grandparents’ house in rural Texas. My thoughts were more technical in nature. I was impressed that this was all ceramic even though it appeared to be metal. If the piece hadn’t been shaped with so much accuracy we’d have known instantly that it wasn’t what it seemed. Nostalgia and interest piqued.
3. I quite enjoyed the miniature exhibition put on by The Dinnerware Museum. Their small space was full of dinnerware in all manner of materials. The Ann Arbor-based Museum is the first museum in the world devoted exclusively to dinnerware. It began showing bits of it’s collection in special exhibitions in 2012, and hopes to soon fund a permanent space. Learn more here.
4. She Defines Herself | Donna Rosenthal | Jean Albano Gallery. The series of works by Donna Rosenthal surprised me with their detail and somewhat hidden significance. At first glance this work’s cute profile and hanger style display suggests that it could be something you could pick up in the home decor section of a local craft store. The Jean Albano Gallery space had many of the miniature dresses displayed, and I had to inspect them more closely. She defines herself is made of pages from a dictionary and the fact that there is a material significance to the words chosen elevates these for me. The messages on each work are very amusing, and the material significances clever. Overall there is no denying that these are still in the cute realm, but we enjoyed them anyway.
5. This year my attention was also captured by food related pieces purely because of the nature of this website. Food and art. There seemed to be a lot of it around. First the Dinnerware Museum, and now these? Food and art is trending.
Those Fries in the back? Glass. Yep. Glass.