In early October 2013 two adult whales and one juvenile were carefully loaded onto a moving truck and carried south to the Port Canaveral, Florida. The whales were hung from the ceiling in the vast atrium of the Port Canaveral Welcome Center by artist Sayaka Ganz and her small team of supporters. Each adult whale measures 12 feet long, with the baby coming in at a smaller five. Together they form an installation that makes a powerful visual statement to visitors. Careful observers are quick to notice the vast, mysterious animals are constructed from mundanely familiar materials. Hundreds of castaway items such as plastic spoons, a few coat hangers and even a snow sled make up the outer covering of the sculptures created by the skillful hands of a humble and meticulous Fort Wayne artist.
Ganz is a sculptor who explores discarded materials. She turns waste into graceful works of art that cut through space with racing energy. The majority of her pieces honor animals known for heart-thumping speed. Horses with wild, flowing manes, a dashing, aerodynamic cheetah and a rookery of penguins darting under foaming waves are a few of her subjects. Her forms are composed of plastic spatulas and other gadgets collected from area thrift stores. She searches discarded piles for curvilinear forms that lend themselves to the organic slopes found in her subjects. Long, flowing lines are used to create the electric sense of movement.
Ganz’s connection to castoffs is seated in her childhood. Growing up in several different countries, she was forced to adapt to a variety of situations. At an early age she was a flexible thinker ready to survey new situations to figure out how she could fit in. Over and over, childhood challenged Ganz to discover how to connect with others. The experiences left her longing for a sense of purpose. A kindergarten teacher taught Ganz a lesson of Shintoism that made a great impact on her personal philosophy. The lesson said that all objects, alive and non-living, have spirits. When objects are discarded they have feelings of sadness. The thought of this touched Ganz who, as an artist, reclaims these items and gives them new life, hoping to bring them a sense of place and purpose.
Thousands of objects sorted by color into thirty, clear plastic bins, wait in her basement for the opportunity to find purpose as part of Ganz’s work. When she begins a new piece, photographs taken from several angles serve as reference points for Ganz as she builds an armature, or skeleton, from thick aluminum wire, which serves as the foundation for the plastic pieces. To accentuate movement, Ganz carefully chooses long, curved pieces and attaches them to the armature in parallel, overlapping only when she is sure the flow of motion will not be interrupted. She takes time to look closely then steps away, going back and forth, over and over, to ensure the piece takes on a lifelike quality. Ganz is intrigued by the form and shape of animals, but she is even more interested in the shapes an animal makes as it darts, runs, or glides.
“Movement summarizes the fundamental existence of living beings,” she explains.
Bringing new life to the objects she collects gives Ganz a sense of purpose and peace, but within her bins of supplies there are some forms that tend to get passed over. Finding the right home for all of the plastic parts she amasses is a challenge.
“In the animals I look for very specific shapes. There are pieces that get left behind, especially round pieces like cups and bowls. I’d like to come up with an abstract relief using those pieces,” says Ganz who seems to keep her thoughts one step ahead of herself. Many of her misfit parts found a home within the Port Canaveral installation as strands of bubbles and kelp.
“The bubbles and kelp became simplified – very abstract. I made them into mobiles, and a colleague, Jim Mertz, helped me shape the wire so they could move. This idea allowed me to use the objects that I hadn’t been using in the past,” said Ganz. Large installations give her the opportunity to explore new ideas and uses for materials.
A recent stay at an artist residency, The Art Farm, located in Marquette, Nebraska, allowed Ganz to explore a new material: inner tubes from discarded tires. Her interest in the material stems from a pile of rubble pulled from the Maumee River in Fort Wayne. She was asked to develop a sculpture using metal objects pulled from the river during an annual cleaning effort. Not many metal pieces were salvaged, but an alarming load of discarded tires piled up alongside the river.
“There were so many tires – enough to fill a small garage,” said Ganz. “Volunteers pull tires out of the river each year, cleaning up after people who throw them in, thinking that because they are covered and unseen they somehow disappear.” Frustrated by the discovery, Ganz was determined to find a use for the material.
She spent three days of her residency washing and preparing a modest collection of inner tubes. She cut the material with scissors and used a hole-punch to develop a delicate, lacy appearance and was able to transform a heavy, dirty material into something to reflect life and renewal: a tree.
During her time at The Art Farm, Ganz was faced with the burden that waste imposes. With no garbage service, the residency campus is forced to handle every detail of processing its own refuse. Composting, sorting, reusing and recycling all take effort. Ganz explains that when people realize that using a material will create more work and require significant use of personal energy, they tend to consume less. If one obtains an object that can never truly be discarded, the realization forces a person to think deeply before bringing the object into his or her life.
“What I am doing is such a small thing compared to all the waste that exists in the world. I try to remind myself that my job isn’t to change the whole situation but to change a small part of it. I want to help people value materials more,” Ganz explains.
She wants people to realize that living sustainably is more than recycling. It is making a paradigm shift to consider whether or not to bring a new object into one’s life and considering what will happen to that object once it leaves a person’s control.
“If I can make plastic really beautiful, it can change the value of the material,” she says. She isn’t referring to monetary value but rather the value that people place on something as being useful and at a higher level, something to be cherished.
Ganz will soon have a new opportunity to share her passion for sustainability and pass along some of her strategies as she serves as the keynote speaker at the Youth Energy Summit. She will travel to California and speak to young leaders about her work with sustainable art.
During a workshop at the conference Ganz plans to share her Japanese heritage by introducing participants to an old world object, furoshiki. Furoshiki are traditional Japanese wrapping cloths that can be used to transport items as a backpack or service other tasks such as wrapping a gift or storing a collection of objects. Ganz hopes to help young minds think beyond what is familiar to them and to consider deeply how they consume and use materials in both art and throughout daily life.
Ganz’s trip to California follows a whirlwind year that not only took her to Florida to install three whales, but to Italy for a large solo show. She currently has work traveling with an exhibit that will land in Kalamazoo, Michigan in February before continuing to travel through the Midwest on a multi-year tour.
Local collectors interested in Ganz’s work can find small objects at the FWMoA gift shop or visit her website www.sayakaganz.com. While Ganz does commission her work, it is more important to her to show work than it is to sell. Her challenge for the world to treat objects with value so that less waste is produced is most effectively delivered without words, but through her beautiful work in sculpture.
Friday, April 28
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Concordia Comedy Festival — Concordia Lutheran High School presents a showing of comedy films from middle and high school students, 7 p.m. Friday, April 28, Room 101, Neff Hall, IPFW, Fort Wayne, free, 483-1102
Tapestry: A Day for You — Day of inspiration, renewal and education for women in all stages of life with keynote speaker Ann Curry, 7:30 a.m. Friday, April 28, Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, $75, 483-1111
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Blooze Faktor — Blues at Dupont Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., cover, 483-1311
Chris Worth & Company — Variety at Arena Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 557-1563
Classic Voice — Variety at The Venice Restaurant, Fort Wayne, 7-10 p.m., no cover, (260) 482-1618
Cougar Hunter — 80s glam rock at The Venue, Angola, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $5, 665-3922
Expanding Man — Variety at Club Soda, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 426-3442
G-Money Band — Blues at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 8:30 p.m., no cover, 482-6425
Hubie Ashcraft & Travis Gow — Country at Billy's Downtown Zulu, Monroeville, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 623-3583
The Illegals — Rock at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover, 483-5526
IPFW Bands & Choirs w/Fort Wayne Children's Choir — Classical at Auer Performance Hall, Rhinehart Music Center, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 7:30 p.m., $4-$7, 481-6555
Joe Stabelli — Jazz at Don Hall's Gas House, Fort Wayne, 5:45-9 p.m., no cover, 426-3411
John Curran & Renegade — Country at American Legion Post 241, Waynedale, 8:30-11:30 p.m., no cover, 747-7851
Kat Bowser — Variety at Don Hall's Guesthouse, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 489-2524
Rebecca Rego — Americana/country at Two-EE's Winery, Huntington, 7:30-9:30 p.m., no cover, 672-2000
Secret Mezzanine — Variety at Deer Park Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 432-8966
String Theory — Acoustic variety at Friendly Fox, Fort Wayne, 6:30-8:30 p.m., no cover, 260-745-3369
Todd Harrold & Nick Bobay Duo — R&B/blues/variety at O'Sullivan's Italian Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 422-5896
Trichotomous Hippopotamus w/Trackless, John Fishell — Rock at Brass Rail, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., cover, 267-5303
The Why Store — Rock at Mitchell's Sports Bar & Neighborhood Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $5, (260) 387-5063
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Big Dawg Karaoke w/Brian — Variety at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
Bucca Karaoke w/Ashley — Variety at Tower Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-6310
Classic City Karaoke w/Bryan Lee — Karaoke at Pine Valley Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m., no cover, 490-9464
Dance Party w/DJ Rich — Variety at Columbia Street West, Fort Wayne, 10:30 p.m., cover, 422-5055
DJ dance party — at Rum Runners, Fort Wayne, 8:30 p.m., ,
DJ Shawn — Karaoke/variety at Club Paradise, Angola, 10 p.m., no cover, 833-7082
Fort Wayne Karaoke — Variety at Tap Haus, New Haven, 9 p.m., no cover, 493-6622
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Jay — Variety at Coconutz @ Crazy Pinz, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 490-2695
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Scott — Variety at JR's Pub, Leo, 9 p.m., no cover, 627-2500
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/TJ — at Chevvy's, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., ,
House DJ — Variety at Early Bird's Ultra Lounge, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., cover, 483-1979
House DJ — Variety at Flashback on the Landing, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., cover, 422-5292
Karaoke w/DJ Chuck — Variety at DW Bar & Grill, Churubusco, 10 p.m., no cover, 693-8172
Karaoke with Rooster — Variety at Portside Pizza, Columbia City, 9 p.m., no cover, 691-3333
Karaoke — Variety at Coconutz @ Crazy Pinz, Fort Wayne, 9-11 p.m., no cover, 490-2695
Karaoke — Variety at Hamilton House, Hamilton, 9 p.m., no cover, 488-3344
Karaoke — Variety at Beamer's Sports Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 625-1002
Karaoke — Karaoke at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
Karaoke — Variety at Crooner's Karaoke Bar, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-3 a.m., no cover, 486-1979
Rockstar Karaoke & DJ w/Scotty — Karaoke at Backway Lounge, Angola, 10 p.m., no cover, 665-5081
Shooting Star Prod. w/Barbie — Variety at Uncle Lou's Steel Mill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-5787
Sidecar Gary's Karaoke & DJ — Karaoke at 4 Crowns, Auburn, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover, 925-9805
Sidecar Gary's Karaoke & DJ w/Kevin — Variety at Danny's Italian Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 484-4444
SureShot Karaoke w/David — Variety at The Green Frog Inn, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m., no cover, 426-1088
Three Rivers Karaoke — at Bottle and Bottega, Fort Wayne, 8:30-10:30 p.m., no cover, 494-1020
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Funny Little Thing Called Love — Romantic comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Home and Jamie Wooten, 7 p.m. dinner, 8 p.m. curtain, Friday-Saturday, April 28-29 and May 5-6 and May 12-13, Arena Dinner Theatre, Fort Wayne, $40 (includes dinner & show), 424-5622
The Little Mermaid — Fort Wayne Civic Theatre musical based on the Disney movie, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30; 8 p.m. Friday, May 5; 2 p.m. & 8 p.m. Saturday, May 6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, Arts United Center, Fort Wayne, $17-$29, 424-5220
Little Shop of Horrors — IPFW Department of Theatre performance of Alan Menken-Howard Ashman musical comedy, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29, Williams Theatre, IPFW, Fort Wayne, $5-$18, 481-6555
Next to Normal — Tony Award- and Pulitzer-winning musical about coping with mental illness, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, May 4-6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, Three Rivers Music Theatre, Fort Wayne, $10-$20, 498-2270
The Taming of the Shrew — William Shakespeare’s now somewhat controversial comedy about the battle between the sexes, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29 and Friday-Saturday, May 5-6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7; 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 12-13, First Presbyterian Theater, Fort Wayne, $12-$20, 426-7421 ext. 121
A Wrinkle in Time — all for One productions’ adaptation of Madeline L’Engle’s young adult science fiction novel, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 30; 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 5-6; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 7, PPG ArtsLab, Auer Center for Arts & Culture, Fort Wayne, $11-20, 422-4226
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37th National Print Exhibition — Juried exhibition featuring contemporary printmakers from around the nation, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 5, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
41st SOCA Student Exhibition — Works from students currently enrolled at USF’s School of Creative Arts, daily thru April 30, Weatherhead Gallery, USF Rolland Art Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Diane Allen Groenert — Exhibition of local artist’s Downtown Series and new works, Monday-Saturday thru June 24, West Central Microcreamery & Cafe, Fort Wayne, 415-9293
Echolilia — Works from Timothy Archibald and his autistic son, Eli, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Expressions of Existence — An exhibition of works by artists through history, including Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Francisco Goya and others whose works have been influenced by disabilities, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Fort Wayne Artist Guild Exhibitions — Works by Alice Siefert at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Jennifer Caudel at Allen County Retinal Surgeons, Anita Trick, Citizens Square (2nd and 3rd floors), Darlene Selzer Miller at The Einhaus Group for Women’s Health, Patricia Weiss at Heritage of Fort Wayne, Emily Jane Butler at Ophthalmology Consultants (Southwest), Linda Binek at Ophthalmology Consultants (North), Carolyn Stachera at Rehabilitation Hospital of Fort Wayne, John Kelty at ResCare Inc. Adult Day Service, Wiletta Blevins at Town House Retirement, Karen Bixler at Visiting Nurse Hospice and Barb Yoder and Karen Harvey at Will Jewelers, thru April 30, fortwayneartistguild.org.
Fort Wayne Photographers Club — Exhibition featuring local photographers, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 30, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Glass: A Medium in Art and Automobiles — Dale Chihuly blown glass and fiberglass auto, daily thru Sept. 8, Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, Auburn, $7.50-$12.50, 925-1444
Jan Krist-Finkbeiner — Exhibition of ceramic reliefs, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 5, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
Juxtapoz Magazine: 25 Years Under the Influence — A chronicle of the iconic magazine’s evolution into one of the most influential magazines of art of the counterculture, Tuesday-Sunday thru July 9, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Kathy Funderburg & Diane Schafer-King — Acrylic paintings (Funderburg) and works in marbled paper and fabric (Schaefer-King), Monday-Saturday thru April 29, Orchard Gallery of Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 436-0927
Norman Bradley and Friends — Exhibition of works by friends and colleagues of the late Fort Wayne artist, Tuesday-Saturday thru May 20 , Crestwoods Frame Shop & Gallery, Roanoke, 672-2080
Outdoor Sculpture Invitational — Fifteen outdoor sculptures from regional artists, daily thru April 30, School of Creative Arts campus, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Perspectives Live Butterfly Display — Up close and personal perspectives of the Conservatory’s newest collection of live butterflies, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 25, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Rhoda Gerig: The Hope of Eagles — Photographic images of eagles, daily thru June 4, Clark Gallery, Honeywell Center, Wabash, 563-1102
Robert Williams: SLANG Aesthetics! — An exhibition of new work by the artist considered the godfather of the lowbrow, pop surrealist and colloquial realism art movements, Tuesday-Sunday thru July 23, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Sharon — An exhibition of Leon Borensztein photographs chronicling the struggles he faced raising his severely disabled daughter, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
SOCA Graduate Program: Student Highlights — Juried exhibition of works by students enrolled in USF’s School of Creative Arts graduate program, Monday-Friday thru April 30, Lupke Gallery, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Exhibition of works by IPFW graduation seniors, daily thru May 3, Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery, Main Library, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Senior thesis projects from Bachelor of Fine Arts candidates Brenda Drayer (sculpture), Derek Hibbs (printmaking), Ellen Mensch (painting), Nathaniel Morris (sculpture) and Kyle Snodgrass (sculpture), daily thru May 7, Visual Arts Gallery, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
Spring Palette — New original works by more than 50 nationally recognized artists, Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment thru May 20 (Cinco de Mayo Fiesta featuring mariachi music by Mark Meussling 6-10 p.m. Friday, May 5), Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 426-6568