Artist wrangles waste into wildlife


Sayaka Ganz returning to Artists at Work area of Black Swamp Arts Festival

Artist Sayaka Ganz grew up out of place.
Her father’s career took the family to Brazil, Japan and Hong Kong. Then Ganz moved to Bloomington, Ind.
to attend the University of Indiana.
"Growing up I didn’t have a place I could fit in," she said.
In her global sojourns, often staying in strangers’ homes, she would find cast off household objects.
In the past few years, Ganz, who received her Master’s of Fine Arts from Bowling Green State University,
has been taking those discarded domestic objects and giving them new life in art, strikingly detailed
sculptures of wildlife.
"To me, what I do is take these random forms and put them together into a whole," Ganz said.
"It’s like bringing dferent cultures together."
Her penguins were on exhibit at the Bowling Green Community Center, and a charging horse greeted those
attending the annual Toledo Area Artists Exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art this summer.
For the second year in a row, those attending the Black Swamp Arts Festival will have the chance to
witness first hand her aesthetic alchemy, to ask her questions and to help provide material for a
forthcoming major project.
Ganz will be one of the artists participating in the festival’s Acts of Art area in the parking lot to
the south of The Flower Basket, 165 S. Main St., Bowling Green on Sept. 12 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sept.
13 from and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m..
People are asked to contribute unwanted blue and green plastic kitchen utensils, cups, bowls, toys and
sports equipment (no beverage bottles) that will be used in art work for the new arena being built in
Toledo. Ganz will create a large-scale replica of the Maumee River. She’s collaborating with BGSU
graduate Stephen Williams and former BGSU faculty member Greg Mueller, both of whom worked on the Poe
Road Project.
At the festival, Ganz will create a blue and green salamander. Last year, she made a red salamander.
They represent her long fascination with animals – she even considered majoring in zoology instead of
The artist has worked before in public, but usually on projects created over the course of weeks.
Creating a work of art at the festival in two days with a more limited supply of material and tools
"gives me the challenge of having a short deadline."
"It makes me focus," she said. "I do enjoy it, but the work probably ends up being
While she has some idea how the piece will go together and has an metal frame ready, the process is
"very spontaneous."
"You decide as you go," she said.
And those decisions are made in front of a steady stream of people. The Artists at Work area is in the
passageway between the main stage area and the location of the food vendors and beer garden.
"It’s been very fun talking to people," Ganz said. She’s been struck by "the surprisingly
intelligent comments from little kids."
They will remark that the sculpture is being made from "common household objects."
Grown ups, she said, are more likely to say: "This is made from junk."
Whatever it’s called, Ganz’ said only about 20 percent of the objects need to be bent or twisted.
"They’re formed to fit the human body, so they have these curves already," she said.
The artist’s concern for the environment is a further source of inspiration. "I really don’t like to
see things go to waste."
"What she does is organic in nature," said Chris Gajewicz, who is coordinating the Artists at
Work. "She takes these pieces of discarded plastic… and she can see organic creatures in the
inorganic material. She turns it into something that’s alive."
And people have a lot of questions about what she does. That’s in keeping with intent of the Artists at
Work area.
"I think when people come to the festival, there’s a mystery about how all this art gets
created," Gajewicz sad. This gives people a chance to see the artistic process up close.
"You’re right there and can ask the artist what they’re doing."
This year the area will include, in addition to Ganz, glassblowing, glassbead makers, a sculptor and the
Black Swamp Spinners Guild.
Caption: ‘She takes these pieces of discarded plastic… and she can see organic creatures in the
inorganic material. She turns it into something that’s alive.’
– Chris Gajewicz
Artists at Work coordinator

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