Monday November 7, 2011 | by Andrew Page

Seen at SOFA 2011: Laura Donefer

Laura Donefers exuberant colors in vibrant hues were a favorite at this year's glass-heavy SOFA CHICAGO. courtesy: duane reed gallery

With SOFA CHICAGO featuring more glass art than ever this year (it seemed at least half of all the work on exhibit was made of glass), Laura Donefer’s distinctive glass sculptures commanded attention. In fact, most of the artist’s vibrantly hued works on display at the Duane Reed Gallery booth were sold by Saturday evening. Although enthusiasm for Donefer’s blown and torchworked pieces have been growing (her work sold out at last year’s SOFA CHICAGO), the demand for her sculptural vessels crowned by spiraling, embellished tentacles radiating was notable. Her work is suggestive of some kind of fantastical life forms
discovered in an arcane corner of the earth, intensifications of what the natural world is capable of producing.

Laura Donefer speaking about her recent work Oceana Amulet Basket (2011), a blown and torchworked sculpture, one of many of her works that sold during the three-day art fair.

With seemingly organic swirls of deep navy and azure blues, Donefer’s work entitled Oceana sold for $16,000. It’s deep-hued form stood majestically front-and-center, acting as a powerful lure to passersby. Interviewed by the GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet, Donefer explained that “This fecund, round piece speaks of my sorrows about the state of the ocean—about what we were doing to it, about how it’s almost too late. The artist’s intent may be somber, but the actual work exudes an exuberant character, clearly evocative of the beautiful exoticism of the ocean.

The smaller but equally striking work of red glass, Roja Roja (sold for $6,900),
resembles something of an alluring tropical flower at the climax of its bloom.
Exquisite in its intensity, the piece breathes fiery emotion. “Red glass is like magma
out of the earth,” explained Donefer. “If you ever see a volcano then you’ll know it
screams passion, so when people own this red glass it really vibrates in their home.”

Donefer has been working in glass for nearly thirty years. She mastered
glass blowing and then went on to incorporate flameworking into her repertoire. Her
process for the works on display at SOFA was incredibly detailed and time-
consuming, as many of the glass elements had to be meticulously bound and
sewn. “It is definitely a labor of love,” explained the artist.

Donefer’s influences vary, but remain rooted—like her medium— in the
natural world. Dynamic and colorful, the artist’s personality is on par with her art.

“I am a very red kind of person,” she explained while cradling her piece Roja Roja.

The natural attraction to Donefer’s art was visible by the groups of people
circulating around her display area, and by the red dots on the tags of most of her
works at this year’s SOFA Expo. “I am having a blast! I mean, the red dot does help,
but after working seven days a week for months at a time, it’s nice to relax a little
and enjoy the beautiful setting,” said Donefer.

—Margot Brody

Glass: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for more than 40 years.