Studio Brunstrum

SOFA Art Show is Feast

November 28, 2016

This year's SOFA art show on Navy Pier was a feast of glass art, textiles and texture. I added many new artists to my little black book....

Photo Courtesy of 

This year's SOFA art show on Navy Pier was a feast of glass art, textiles and texture - I added many new artists to my little black book! For serious art collectors, SOFA – Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design Fair- is a must-attend event  at Chicago’s Navy Pier each fall.Three-dimensional artwork is the focus and the artists are so talented - the show attracts 35,000 people annually – including me! This year I noticed a lot of glass art, and I was shocked at how much woven textile and texture there was – I didn’t see that last year. After touring the show for hours with my friend Liza Morgan and her daughter, Emily, I have fallen for many new artists, including John Kiley.

Photo Courtesy of 

Kiley is a glass artist and a bit of a prodigy. He began his professional career at 19 in Seattle and at 21 was working for the hugely successful glass artist David Chihuly. One of Kiley’s techniques is to hammer a thick slab of glass with a sledge hammer, which produces unusual patterns of distress.

Photo of John Kiley's work, Courtesy of 

I was intrigued by his philosophy of making the perfect imperfect. The Japanese call that appreciation for imperfection “wabi sabi,” and it’s fascinating. Kiley’s work would fit almost anywhere in a home – on a pedestal in a corner, on a cocktail or console table…it’s clean and cool and has enough complexity to provide hours of contemplation.

Photo of Rebecca Gouldson by Steve Speller, Courtesy of 

I’m a big fan of English metal sculptor Rebecca Gouldson, too. She etches very subtle but complex designs, often inspired by nature, onto a variety of metals, including copper, brass, gold and silver, and creates unusual wall sculptures.

Photo of Tryptych Monoscape by Rebecca Gouldson, Courtesy of 

They are so “quiet” that you have to stand really close to see their beauty and intricacy, but that makes her work a very intimate, contemplative experience.

Photo of Mary Giles working, Courtesy of 

And I can’t leave out Mary Giles, a Minnesota resident who creates beautiful sculptures by mixing basketry elements with materials such as waxed linen, copper, iron and burlap. It's a rough-luxe look that you have to take some time to study to get the full effect.

Photo of Mary Giles' work,Courtesy of 

Giles learned basket making from Native Americans, and her work has been inspired by the deserts of the Southwest as well as the St. Croix River and woods in Minnesota, where she lives.

These three talented people are just a few of the many artists who caught my eye at SOFA, but I will be writing about others in the weeks to come. Now it’s time to put my feet up on the sofa and contemplate some art.

Susan Brunstrum
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