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article imageIndiana sculptor turns trash into artistic animals Special

By David Silverberg     Mar 9, 2010 in Entertainment
Fort Wayne - Sculptor Sayaka Ganz doesn't look at garbage bins and spatulas like everyone else does; she sees art in everyday objects, turning a set of spoons into colourful fish. Her artwork will be installed in the Educational Wing of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art.
At first, Sayaka Ganz's sculpture of two horses emerging from a wall looks like any other impressive rendition of galloping steeds. But peer closer and you'll see the artwork made from kitchen utensils such as spatulas, ladles, spoons and more. It's hard to believe a ladle could be used for anything artistic but Ganz makes it work.
In fact, the Fort Wayne, Indiana, artist is winning acclaim for her imaginative technique. She received the Contemporary Arts Award for her white horse sculpture "Wind" in the Fall Juried Exhibition at the American Academy of Equine Art. This month, her six-foot-long sculpture of a tiger leaping from the underbrush will be part of the new Educational Wing of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. Indiana University-Purdue University courted her to be a limited-term lecturer on designing and drawing.
She's also done site-specific installations, such as a "green" Christmas tree displayed at Fort Wayne's Embassy Theatre.
It's easy to get lost in Ganz's world, where harmless objects are retooled to become wholly new animals (she has a fondness for wildlife). One six-piece installation resembles birds swooping down from above, but the birds are fashioned from discarded blue and white plastic pieces. Scrap metal forms the core of a dog sculpture sniffing the ground. A school of fish swim through the air in an expansive piece made from metal spatulas.
Born in Japan, Ganz earned her BFA in Printmaking from Indiana University Bloomington, and an MFA in 3D Studies from Bowling Green State University. It seems she's most intensely taking advantage of her latter studies, exhibiting 3D artwork built from scratch...literally. spoke to Ganz to learn more about what motivates her and what she hopes her artwork will inspire in visitors. When did you first know you were an artist, or had a passion for art?
Ganz: The passion was always there. I believe I was born with a passion for fitting things together. As a child my favorite toys were shape sorter, jigsaw puzzle, and lego. Ever since I can remember I have always loved to draw, paint, color and construct. What inspired you to create the artistry you do now with found objects?
Ganz: It is the combination of my passion for fitting odd shapes together, and this strange sympathy I feel towards discarded objects. I think it comes from Japanese Shinto belief that everything, even inanimate objects, has a spirit, and my experience of relocating and having to adjust, try to fit in to a new environment.
A sculpture of horses by Sayaka Ganz  using found objects
A sculpture of horses by Sayaka Ganz, using found objects
With permission by Sayaka Ganz Explain the process you may go through with these reclaimed objects -- from finding the materials to assembling them.
Ganz: I am always collecting and reclaiming objects, from thrift stores and donations and dumpsters. I have them sorted by color into about 20 large plastic storage bins. When I have enough of one color I can make a plan for a project.
I focus on a specific animal or select a few candidates that may have a type of motion I want to depict. I do some internet research, look for photo reference books and come up with as many images of those animals as I can find. Then I select an animal and a pose or motion that is most appropriate and sketch out the plans for armature. I don't sketch a lot, just to figure out the sizes and general form. Then I make the armature according to this plan, paint it the right color and the rest is very spontaneous. I drill holes into plastic objects and tie them onto the armature using electrical wire of similar color taken from old toys and appliances. I keep adding objects, stepping back, switching them out and adding some more until the sculpture looks fully formed.
Ganz s artwork of birds in flight
Ganz's artwork of birds in flight
With permission by Sayaka Ganz What feelings or emotions do you hope to stir among people who see your artwork?
Ganz: Curiosity, amazement and hope. I want people to have fun exploring new possibilities for "trash" instead of recycling from sense of obligation or guilt.
A sculpture of a dog by Sayaka Ganz of Fort Wayne  Indiana
A sculpture of a dog by Sayaka Ganz of Fort Wayne, Indiana
With permission by Sayaka Ganz Some people say beauty is the eye of the beholder. Do you think that's true for "trash"?
Ganz: I think that beauty can be in our imagination as well as our eyes. Sometimes people tell me that they are amazed by how I can find beauty in these plastic objects that only look like trash to them. I see beauty because I can imagine the potentials, what they can look like when they are arranged in the right way.
As far as eyes go, yes, different people find different things beautiful. However, a lot of people's eyes are made of the same stuff and although there are some variations to what people find beautiful, there are also certain qualities that most beautiful things have in common. We are biologically programmed to find certain things appealing.
An exhibit of colourful fish  by Sayaka Ganz
An exhibit of colourful fish, by Sayaka Ganz
With permission by Sayaka Ganz
To see more of Ganz's artwork, visit her website.
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