Fiber at SOFA Chicago

The Cranbrook Academy of Art Fiber Department will be exhibiting at the 21st Annual Exposition of Sculpture Objects & Functional Art + Design Fair (SOFA) in Chicago from November 7-9 . At SOFA CHICAGO 2014 a roster of some of the world’s finest galleries will feature works by emerging and established artists and designers in glass, ceramics, textiles, wood, and metal.

The exhibition, Comfort Me is work done by students from the Fiber Department of the Cranbrook Academy of Art that explores the topic of comfort. Some of the pieces do this through the tactile material connection we have with domestic objects – think of the warmth of a favorite garment, the weight of a quilt as you settle into bed, and holding your pet. Other works are based in fond memories triggered by a favorite photograph, organizing a group of beautiful objects, the telephone conversation with a loved one, and the peace and balance resulting from a spiritual practice.

“The tension between daily struggles and the human need for contentment is in evidence each day at Cranbrook as students question their basic assumptions about who they are, what they make, how and why they make.  The realizations that are part of this process of exploration do not make most people comfortable – makers or viewers,” said Newport, Artist-in-Residence and Head of Fiber at Cranbrook Academy of Art.

For example, Jenny Walker’s commemorative plates (Canoe) use photographs from vacations and holidays to explore the ways we build memory and celebrate interpersonal relationships while Emily Staugaitis’s, Untitled (Brush Collection), builds the space and time to linger over and appreciate the beauty of use, design, and the everyday. The hermit costumes of Arie Ruvinsky use the identity revealed by a garment to explore the social balance provided by those among us who are removed from general society. Gabrielle Pescador’s Tallitkatan transforms a ritual garment exposing the symbolic weight of spiritual practice and Xiaohan Zhao’s Baobao is a mixture of garment and skin that connects and separates two bodies in an intimate moment.

Technology also brings comfort – think of the ease of getting in touch with an intimate partner which the fabric quilt/collages of Andrea Alonge complicates with a mixture of domesticity and sexting. Ariel Levine’s Envy removes the material component of comfort and uses the aural experience of a story and the degradation of the technology that transmits it to us in order to wrestle with the internal dialogues stemming from our relationships.  Many of the pieces in this exhibition struggle with the stillness, contentment, and rest comfort suggests, exposing the tension between our day to day challenges and a need for  peace. The texts that follow share some of the process of Arie Ruvinsky’s first year in the Fiber Department and thoughts on the theme of comfort from Jovencio de la Paz (Fiber ’12). “What I understand from working with the dedicated students of Cranbrook is that they embrace these challenges and do so in ways that honor their unique viewpoints and experiences,” said Newport.

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