E-merging at SOFA

We’re only a week away from SOFA Chicago. Love it or hate it, SOFA is THE event for artists and designers in our field. It’s where the most important collectors gather to spy and buy, to check out the best of contemporary glass (and other media, but let’s not get off track) and to see what’s new in the field.

An old SOFA. In 2006 we used our booth to spotlight some great talent, artists who had worked at North Lands Creative Glass.

This year we’ve dedicated the Bullseye Gallery booth to showcasing past participants in our biennial e-merge competition.

Selecting just six from the hundreds of enormously talented emerging and early-career artists who, over the years, have taken part in e-merge (and its predecessor WG@BE) wasn’t easy.

2000 – 2002 Catharine Newell

By now it’s hard to consider Catharine Newell an emerging artist.

But back in 2000 Catharine was an honorable mention in our first competition (the first two contests were called “WG@BE”) . By 2002 she’d taken First Place.  Today, her thoughtful commentaries on life, whether human or avian, are appreciated and collected by glass- and art-lovers around the world.

Catharine Newell, “Scat”, 2008. 37.375 x 37.5 x 2 inches installed

2004 Jeff Wallin

Our First Prize (Nonfunctional) winner in 2004  went on in 2007 to win the Sybren Valkema Prize in the Young Glass competition hosted by the Ebeltoft Glass Museum in Denmark.

Jeff Wallin “The Curtains are Cliffs”, 2008. 29.5 x 18.25 x 1.25″

Jeff’s work has continued to develop powerfully in the years since we saw his first painterly work in glass. We’re excited to be previewing his upcoming solo at Bullseye (December 2 – January 31) by showcasing a few new wall works at SOFA Chicago.

2004 April Surgent

This is where I admit to voter fraud.

In 2004 I was so excited about a student I’d been watching in the Canberra Glass Workshop program that I had a personal meltdown when I realized she wasn’t qualified to enter e-merge (we’d included a couple of her school-made pieces in a group show at the gallery already – which made her ineligible to enter e-merge).

So I created something called “The Director’s Corner” where I showed off a few pieces that – for various reasons – hadn’t qualified for the formal jury and awards system.

Since being featured in the infamous Director’s Corner at e-merge, April has visited Bullseye a number of times to work in our R&E department in solo and dual exchanges, most recently with Czech master Jiri Harcuba.

I got a few nasty letters for taking that kind of liberty with the competition and haven’t done it since. But do I regret it? No. Although not eligible on a technicality, April still epitomizes the best of what is emerging in our field: fresh ideas coupled with fresh methodology.

2006 Carrie Iverson

One of the many things I love about the work of 2006 finalist Carrie Iverson is how well it illustrates the power of crossover in our field. An accomplished printmaker before taking up glass, Carrie uses our medium to amplify her visual message about what lies below the surface.

Carrie Iverson. “Cartography” 2008. 17.375″ x 21″ x .25″

Carrie moved quickly through the ranks, not only as an artist working in glass, but now as a teacher. She’s been demonstrating her methods of image transfer for kiln-glass at the Bullseye Resource Center (to SRO crowds!)  and I’ve heard rumors of her teaching a class there soon.

It’s especially rewarding to bring Carrie’s glass work to Chicago, where local TV station WGB just won an Emmy for a documentary on her very moving installation “Façade Project” .

2006 Cobi Cockburn

In 2006 we enjoyed one of those most rare of moments in the art world: the jurors and the public agreed.

Cobi Cockburn won both First Prize (Nonfunctional) and the Popular Prize (selected by votes cast by exhibition visitors) for her set of fused, rolled-up, pulled, refused, cold-worked and kilnformed vessels titled simply “Spring Grass”!

Cobi Cockburn “Spring Grass”, 2006. Larger boat 4.625″ x 29.125″ x 4.375″

Exceptional convergence is at the core of Cobi’s work: a point at which technical virtuosity supports but does not for a moment upstage the message. On close inspection it’s hard not to marvel at the complexity of her method: furnace work, torch work, kiln work, cold work – all intricately woven together to create objects that reflect a journey as personal and unique as the simple grasses of the artist’s homeland.


Cobi, head in oven, taking glass to places its never gone before.

2008 Heike Brachlow

I’m a firm believer that simple is the most difficult. In 2008 when I saw London-based Heike Brachlow’s cast glass cylinders I was stunned.  Even without picking a piece up, to me they shouted “heavy”, “substantial”, “grounded”. So when I touched one and it rocked from side to side I just about came unglued.

Brachlow, Heike “Waiting V” 2008. 25″ x 7″ x 7″

Startling is the word I’d use for Heike’s work. The shock of finding instability in the stable, weightlessness in mass, imbalance in balance is just the kind of gratifying surprise we look for in emerging talent.

No, we don’t typically get this reckless with the art. It’s the magic of photography that make the RPMs seem so much greater than they are on this one.

But yes…..it truly is work that makes my head spin…..as I’m sure SOFA will.

I hope you’ll come visit us there – booth #407.

And consider entering your work in e-merge 2010. It’s the future – and a bright one.

4 Responses to E-merging at SOFA

  1. Ed & Donna LaPlante says:

    Hey, there should be no problem with you creating a new catagory. There would be no e-merge with out you and Bullseye stepping up to help all of us emerging artists. More catagories done with the right motives just give more folks a chance to be seen. It is like the “my football, my rules” deal.

    Thanks, Ed LaPlante, Confusion Art Studio

  2. JC says:

    Hi Lani,
    I’ll be seeing you at SOFA! I’ll be in Chicago from Thursday to Sunday. I’m looking forward to seeing this spectacular work.

  3. lmcgregor says:

    Fantastic!
    You DO move around, girl! (I’m sitting in a BECon meeting right now talking about your coming out here to Portland next summer.)

  4. lmcgregor says:

    Ed, I love the way you think. I’m going to steal your football!

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