JH: This is SOFA’s 26th year. How has the fair and its mission evolved over time?
LS: 26 years for a fair is a true accomplishment as we are the longest running art fair along with the Armory. What makes SOFA unique is our dedication to showcasing three-dimensional works. Our mission has stayed consistent. It is most rewarding to see the burgeoning conversation about three-dimensional art and craft making its way back into the mainstream cultural conversation. We can be proud that SOFA hasn't left the conversation but has preserved it over two decades.
JH: What distinguishes Chicago from the other major American art and design centers?
LS: Chicago has really come into its own as a contemporary art and cultural destination with an international audience. At the same time, I see Chicago as a base for so much of American cultural leadership especially with its influences on Modernist architecture and design. I think what makes it unique for us is we have such established partnerships and feel supported by the major art institutions throughout the city.
JH: The line between art and design is often blurred. What do you think about this distinction?
LS: We believe that this line will continue to be blurred and SOFA has a long history of celebrating both. In essence, creativity should not be boxed in by labels that aren't really reflective of how we experience life, which is with layers and interaction. These works are always in conversation with each other in real life, why not at the fair? We have had an extensive partnership with the RNDD (River North Design District), and their members have always had an active involvement in the fair. This year at SOFA design will take an even bigger focus with several major design galleries participating such as J. Lohmann and R & Company as well as the Female Design Council.
JH: Why do you believe the art fair as an institution is still vital in a world where art is increasingly being sold online?
LS: Taking in art creates a visceral reaction in the body, and that is just not possible online. I think that online will never take the place of that human interaction. In general, across a variety of industries we are seeing people seeking out a connection.