SOFA Art Fair


The SOFA Chicago Art Fair left me amazed. It was an opportunity to see artworks on an international scale, with prices that match the Sisyphean labor and intelligence invested in them. I saw the crowd, from all over the United States, come to discuss the art, meet the artists and acquire incomparable works of contemporary art. Most of the exhibition is centered on glass art and collectors of this medium. Of course, my personal preferences drew me to the works that primarily made use of textiles.Approximately 80 galleries and art dealers exhibit at SOFA. The number of visitors is estimated at 36,000, which is not the highest I have experienced personally or have read about for other shows. But it seems that the audience is very focused on contemporary art and that, together with a good and supportive gallery, is all artists really need to advance their careers.

First held in 1994, this year was the 24th SOFA exhibition in Chicago – an amazing fact, taking in consideration that the art world is subject to the drastic changes in consumption habits.

This year, the share of contemporary art jewelry at the exhibition seemed to have expanded, and the exhibiting galleries were more varied and enthralling, showing great quality of contemporary art jewelry.

I was lucky to be invited to the exhibition by the Donna Schneier Fine Art Gallery. I met Donna for the first time at the Norton Museum in Florida and being invited to exhibit with her at SOFA was a dream come true.My talented colleagues were so busy in helping each other. At home, people always ask me, “What, you’re flying [to the exhibition]alone?” At exhibitions, I usually have to ask a neighboring exhibitor to cover for me while I run to the washroom. At SOFA, it was clear that we would help one another out, even at the most difficult moments (and rest assured that there are such moments at such a long exhibition and when you are suffering such terrible jetlag). The design of the pavilion itself was clean and suitable. Space was inviting and comfortable for the visitors to wander through and be enchanted by the works.I arrived early in the morning to have enough time to see and photograph the different works in the space. I was more impressed by this exhibition than any museum I have ever visited anywhere in the world.

There are people for whom the work, while important, is the result of an inner personal drive far beyond a working relationship. Not for nothing do my colleagues call Donna “Mama Donna.” From the moment we set up the booth until closing time and dinner together, the feeling was exceptionally familial and professional. I look forward to our next exhibition together.A number of other jewelry galleries impressed me, including:

Galerie Noel Guyomarch – Noel is a pleasant and welcoming individual. His gallery is fascinating in the scope and quality of the jewelry on display.Hedone Gallery – Under the direction of the delightful Bonnie.Pistachios – The professionals made sure to explain the various design processes of the gallery in detail and are proud of the designer’s work. Wanshu Li – Winner of the Exhibition Prize Joya Barcelona 2017If only I could explain the different artworks in detail. It was a privilege to meet the artists and incredible hear the story of the first-rate works. The wood sculptures, which I saw at the gallery across from me, looked as though they were formed out of fabric but actually were made by drilling and carving a whole trunk into a spectacular work of art. All the works seem to gain a new dimension when you learn about the details that preceded their creation. In my dual role as an exhibitor and reviewer, I could not devote the necessary time for a thorough study of the exhibition, so I have something to look forward to for the next time.


This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)


About Author

Inbar Shahak is a textile designer by profession, graduating from the Shenkar University of Fashion in Israel, where she majored in weaving, knitting & printing. After working in the garment industry for Calvin Klein, the urge to create handmade textiles art drove her to establish her own succesfull brand of textile jewelry. Inbar’s jewelry is inspired by delicate tracery patterns and her greatest passion is combineing ancient textile-making traditions with new modern techniques. Inbar’s collections are all drawn by hand and printed over metal at her atelier in Kibbutz Maagan Michael. She regularly collaborates with fashion designers around the world, making bold and theatrical costume jewelry design made for Runway fashion projects and fashion shoot productions. “Inbar Shahak” Studio has been widely displayed in galleries, elite jewelry shops, and fashion designer shops and in exhibitions around the world, including the Premiere Classe in Paris, the IJL Show in London, The Atelie and the Moda show in NY and the Norton art Museum in Florida.


  1. Ana De- Jesus on

    How exciting that you were invited down to the exhibition and was able to see the fine jewellery in person. Having the chance to speak to the designers themselves must have been a mesmerizing experience and I especially enjoyed ‘Noels wall’. It is very avante garde and reminds me of a cross between art and nature.

  2. Such unique pieces and I love the bold designs on them all. I also love the colours in the pieces.

  3. Samantha on

    this seems like such an incredible experience! You were so lucky to be invited to see this beautiful art fair!

  4. This art fair looks so interesting , having a change to meet the designers itself seems a lovely experience. Liked Noel and hedone gallery too much.

  5. Chandres on

    Art ..a three letter word but probably can’t be defined in 300 pages book … Surely you need any eye of a hawk to identify the best piece and this place surely looks like holding some of them .

  6. all the works of art look very interesting and some of them are so intense! You are perfect as usual!

  7. I have never been to an art fair, but this sounds like an amazing experience! I am always amazed at the different and creative works of art I see when visiting galleries and museums.

  8. Ali Rost on

    This looks like such a wonderful event. My husband is from Chicago, and we live only five hours away, so it’s one that we may try to attend some year. While reading through, I couldn’t help but think how cool it is when you get a chance to connect in person with other creatives in your field. How inspiring it is to be surrounded people how are both talented and kind. I also hope you had a chance to send lots of happy customers home with a one of a kind Inbar creation! x

  9. What an awesome experience for you to be invited to!! All of the art looks amazing and you look like you had an amazing time!!

  10. Akamatra on

    God I would so love to be there myself. It would be a tremendous honor to see all these talented exhibitors.

  11. Nayna Kanabar on

    Wow I love all the artwork and jewellery its absolutely stunning. What a lovely visit.

  12. What a treat to be invited to! The artworks look amazing and the jewellery is beautiful as well.

    – Jackie (Organised Mum Life)

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