A SOFA Scavenger Hunt
By GINNY VAN ALYEA
When I used to lead introductory tours of SOFA, there were some general points I always wanted to leave my group with as they headed out on their own to explore what can be an overwhelming and overstimulating art fair. There is so much to see and take in, that at some point your senses might not be able to handle it! Having a few key things in mind as you wander nearly 80 booths can help you manage the visual binge.
While SOFA has made its name by being focused on the same part of the contemporary art market for two and a half decades, it has also evolved to welcome in new perspectives from the art world. Mostly SOFA is dedicated to Sculptural Objects and Functional Art - basically, sculpture and 3D works, but today there is more design on view than ever, which makes sense with SOFA's functional directive, and there is also more 2D work that shows up from time to time, offering, for example, a clever play on painting objects that may in fact by sculptural.
This brief, and hopefully handy, overview of what's on view at SOFA this year in the gallery booths should help you see some of the show's hallmarks and come away with an understanding of what makes SOFA a different kind of contemporary art fair all together.
Of course, once you go see it all for yourself, you can decide what makes SOFA unique.
Complete information may be found at www.sofaexpo.com
Glass is what SOFA is most known for, even though it's not what dominates the fair. However, there's no denying that a visit to SOFA will offer an encounter with lions like Dale Chihuly as well as Lino Tagliapietra (after 16 years with CGN I can say that name four times fast!) The mezmerizing, traveling Hot Glass Show by Corning is also a not-to-be-missed chance to learn about the science and technology behind innovations in glass through live, narrated glassmaking demonstrations, offered all day at the fair.
Ceramic art at SOFA take so many forms. I'm always so taken in by porcelain because even though it's so delicate it can take on so many shapes.
TEXTURE + TECHNIQUE
So much of what's at SOFA is about contemporary art but it also references craft and decorative techniques from history, such as basket weaving and other functional arts.
So much of an artist's challenge is working with various materials, and at SOFA this is always abundantly on view. Artists must figure out how to manipulate and work within a certain medium and then determine how a work can be displayed and enjoyed.
This is one of my favorite things about the art at SOFA - so much of it is created just to be visually appreciated and marvelled at. Visitors to the fair spend a lot of time trying to just figure out, 'How did they do that?'
Top image: Kate Tremel, Lacey, 2018, Ceramic, 19 × 20 × 20"; unique, Steidel Contemporary