COD Instructor Featured at Prestigious Art and Design Event in Chicago

Aleksandra Vali Icon

By Mike McKissack

College of DuPage Adjunct Professor of Metals and Jewelry Design Aleksandra Vali was recently invited to display her work at the prestigious 23rd annual Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design (SOFA) Fair at Navy Pier in Chicago.

“I was thrilled to be invited and to have my creations featured at the fair,” Vali said. “I’ve attended SOFA Chicago for the last eight years and it was very exciting to be there as an exhibitor.”

Vali was invited to be part of the fair after her successful participation at the renowned Aaron Farber Gallery’s “Jewelry as Sculpture as Jewelry” exhibition in New York City in 2016.

She said exhibiting at SOFA provided great opportunities as both an artist and a teacher.

“The fair gave me the opportunity to network with well-known and respected artists and gallery owners from all over the world,” she said. “Some of my students attended the fair and I believe it’s helpful, encouraging and motivating for them to see the success of their instructors. In addition, I was able to connect with many potential future students.”

Trained in sculpture and ceramics in her native Russia, Vali said that she started teaching at age 14 when the instructors noticed she was skilled not only at creating art but also at teaching. She was asked to substitute for an art instructor for a semester and continued to substitute teach periodically. She went on to eventually earn a master’s degree from Novosibirsk State University in Russia and continued to teach part-time while working as a ceramicist for seven years, eventually becoming the lead artist for a large company. After moving to the U.S. in 2003, she enrolled in a jewelry class at College of DuPage and discovered a passion for metalsmithing and creating jewelry.

In addition to having her work widely exhibited across the globe, Vali was a grand prize winner in the prestigious NICHE Design Competition for two consecutive years and placed as a finalist in multiple categories in the competition for four consecutive years. She is a recipient of the Buyers Market 2013 American Made Merit Award and has had her work displayed at numerous venues around the world, including the Natural History Museum and the Science Exhibition Center in Novosibirsk, Russia, the Brooklyn Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Her work has also been featured in numerous publications and books, including American Art Collector (Alcove Books, 2012),  NICHE Magazine, Ornament Magazine,  as well as on the cover of internationally published Gemstone Settings: The Jewelry Maker’s Guide to Styles & Techniques (Interweave Press, 2012). In 2016, Vali traveled to Australia to teach exclusive jewelry workshops at Sydney Jewelry School as an invited artist and experienced instructor. Most recently, a piece she created as part of the Mystery Box Challenge was featured on the cover of the award-winning industry journal produced by Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America (MJSA).

Vali said she is pleased with her experiences as an instructor at COD.

“There is a wonderful community at COD with great relationships among students, teachers and staff,” she said. “We have well-educated, skilled and experienced instructors and the program administrators are very supportive to us as teachers and as artists. We take the program very seriously and that motivates students to do well and continue in the arts. Our students also have multiple opportunities to exhibit their work, attend workshops and earn scholarships.”

She said she finds teaching to be gratifying and a wonderful outlet for her creativity.

“I love the exchange of energy between teacher and student,” she said. “As you share your ideas with students, you always get inspiring ideas back from them. I can share my own artistic ideas with the students and they always have their own unique approach through which it becomes something different.”

Click here to view a gallery of Vali’s students’ work.

Visit cod.edu/programs/arts for more information about the Art program at College of DuPage.

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