The Magazine of Ceramic Art and Craft Subscribe now

Navy Pier Festival Hall : SOFA Chicago - Featuring Extraordinary Ceramics - including new work from Halima Cassell

Opening Night Preview on October 31 from 5 to 9 p.m., celebrating SOFA CHICAGO's landmark 20 years with a first look at cutting-edge art and design Halima Cassell will be showcased in a group show with Joanna Bird. Her sculptures will range in material from marble, clay and bronze.

SOFA CHICAGO is one of the longest-running art fairs in the U.S. and the oldest in Chicago. When it opened at Chicago's Sheraton Hotel and Towers in 1994, the fair drew 58 exhibitors and 14,000 visitors. Located at Navy Pier since 1995, today SOFA CHICAGO attracts almost 100 exhibitors each year and its average attendance is close to 34,000-an increase of more than 100%. 

"There really wasn't an established, strong market in the decorative and applied arts" at the time, recalls cofounder Mark Lyman, president of The Art Fair Company, which produces SOFA CHICAGO. During the 1980s, as a professor of ceramics, sculpture and design at Washington University in St. Louis, Lyman saw "fantastic work being made in a whole range of media" by artists whose interests in historic objects inspired their experiments with materials and form. SOFA CHICAGO was one of the few initiatives that brought these artists together "in a national and international venue," he says.

More than 40 exhibitors have already signed on for 2013, and the international list is still growing. Eight galleries have come to SOFA CHICAGO every year since 1994: Aaron Faber Gallery (New York), Ann Nathan Gallery (Chicago), Habatat Galleries (Royal Oak MI), Jean Albano Gallery (Chicago), Maurine Littleton Gallery (Washington, DC), Scott Jacobson Gallery (New York), Thomas R. Riley Galleries (Columbus OH), and William Zimmer Gallery (Mendocino CA). 

"Dealers are really honing in on how to make the 20th year of the fair very special," according to SOFA CHICAGO Fair Director Donna Davies. Some are curating solo exhibitions of prominent artists, such as Barry Friedman Ltd.'s presentation of glass and metalwork artist Michael Glancy. Others, like Bullseye Gallery, will highlight exciting young artists who are emerging talents. Wexler Gallery, who has participated in SOFA CHICAGO since 2005, will bring new work from William Morris and his original team to this year's fair.
For 2013, SOFA CHICAGO will debut CONNECT, a special student design competition featuring up to six prestigious art and design schools including Pratt Institute (New York) and Edinburgh College of Art (Scotland), as well as several others to be announced later this summer. Each institution will create a lounge environment showcasing students' seating elements, lighting and art. In addition, students from three participating schools will be chosen to work with The Corning Museum of Glass on glass design prototypes as part of CONNECT. The chosen designs will be created in glass by Corning Museum artists and one school's design will be created at The Corning Museum of Glass Hot Glass Roadshow during SOFA CHICAGO.

Potters at this event include (Members in Bold)