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.
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Art on Broadway — Tours of 5 downtown venues featuring art from Alexandra Hall, Julie Wall, Peter Lupkin, Daniel Dienelt, Knotodday, Kay Gregg, Terry Ratliff and St. Monci, 5 p.m. Saturday, March 25, Broadway Street, Fort Wayne, free, 417-5925
Beer, Bourbon, Bacon Festival — Unlimited beer sampling from national and regional craft breweries, fine bourbon sampling and bacon inspired treats, 6-9 p.m. Saturday, March 25 (5-9 p.m. VIP), Marquis and Three Rivers Ballrooms, Hotel Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, $35-$75, 484-0411
An Evening with Author Tom Frank — Author of What’s the Matter with Kansas talks about his new book; hors d’oeuvres, lecture and book signing included in admission, 6 p.m. Saturday, March 25, CS3 Hideaway, Fort Wayne, $15 plus donation, 602-1008
Puttin’ on the Ritz —Active 20-30 club fundraiser with live music from Chris Worth and Company, gourmet edibles, wine and beer, live and silent auctions; black tie optional, 7 p.m. Saturday, March 25, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, $50-$90, 450-2844
Shipshewana on the Road — Food, craft and primitives show and sale, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, March 25 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, March 26, Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, $4, 483-1111
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Big Dick and the Penetrators — Classic rock at Navy Club, Ship 245, New Haven, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 493-4044
Brat Pack — Rat Pack/variety at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 482-6425
Cougar Hunter — 80s glam rock at Vinnie's Bar, Decatur, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $5, 729-2225
Ellsworth Sharp — Neofolk at Friendly Fox, Fort Wayne, 6:30-8:30 p.m., no cover, 745-3369
FBC Band w/Sheba — Variety/Music and Memories benefit at C2G Music Hall, Fort Wayne , 8 p.m., $7-$15, 426-6434
Fireball Matinee — Rock at Hideaway Lounge, Bluffton, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 824-0455
Fleshwounds — Rock at Hamilton House, Hamilton, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 488-3344
Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra — Funk at Dupont Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m., cover, 483-1311
Fu5ion — Variety at Mitchell's Sports Bar & Neighborhood Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $3, (260) 387-5063
The Illegals — Rock at O'Sullivan's Italian Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 422-5896
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 Alley Sports Bar, Pro Bowl West, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 483-4421
Johnny Freakin' Xcitor — Country rock at Beamer's Sports Grill, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m., no cover, 625-1002
Kat Bowser — Variety at Don Hall's Guesthouse, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 489-2524
The Orange Opera w/Mickyle James — Rock at Brass Rail, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., $5, 267-5303
Prime Suspects — Variety at American Legion Post 499, Fort Wayne, 8-11 p.m., no cover, 483-1368
Quincy and the Q-Tet feat. Phil Potts — Rock/variety at Downtown Eatery & Spirits, Warsaw, 10 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, (574) 267-6000
Second Nature — Pop at Crazy Pinz, Fort Wayne, 8-11 p.m., no cover, 490-2695
Shannon Persinger Quartet — Jazz/variety at Club Soda, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 426-3442
Todd Harrold & Nick Bobay Duo — R&B/blues/variety at American Legion Post 148, Fort Wayne, 7 p.m., no cover, 423-4751
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Ambitious Blondes Karaoke — Variety at Office Tavern, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 478-5827
Beat Karaoke & DJ — Variety at American Legion Post 296, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m. , no cover, 456-2988
Bucca Karaoke w/Bucca — Variety at Tower Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-6310
Classic City Karaoke w/Bryan Lee — Karaoke at Corner Pocket Tavern, Fremont, 10 p.m., no cover, 495-9255
Classic City Karaoke w/Tobin — Karaoke at Toad's Tavern, Monroeville, 10 p.m., no cover, 623-6226
DJ Shawn — Karaoke/variety at Club Paradise, Angola, 10 p.m., no cover, 833-7082
Fort Wayne Karaoke — Karaoke at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10:30 p.m., no cover, 483-5526
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Brian — Variety at AJ's Bar and Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., , 434-1980
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Josh — Variety at Arena Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 557-1563
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/TJ — Variety at Chevvy's, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-4748
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 — Variety at Crooner's Karaoke Bar, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-3 a.m., no cover, 486-1979
Live DJ — Variety at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
Shooting Star Prod. w/Barbie — Variety at Uncle Lou's Steel Mill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-5787
Shooting Star Prod. w/Stu — Variety at Pike's Pub, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 478-6200
Sidecar Gary's Karaoke & DJ — Karaoke at Kville Pub, Kendallville, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 348-1677
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The Children’s Hour — Lillian Hellman’s seminal drama about bigotry perpetuated against the LGBT community and how easily a lie can spread, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 25, First Presbyterian Theater, Fort Wayne, $12-$20, 426-7421 ext. 121
Getting Sara Married — Comedy about an unmarried lawyer in need of a husband (according to her aunt), 7 p.m. dinner, 8 p.m. curtain, Saturday, March 25, Arena Dinner Theatre, Fort Wayne, $40 (includes dinner & show), 424-5622
One Foot in the Gravy — Howard Kingkade’s comedy and winner of Fort Wayne Civic Theatre’s Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival, 8 p.m. Saturday, March 25; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 26, Arts United Center, Fort Wayne, $10-$20, 422-4226
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22nd Annual Valentine’s Invitational — Works from local and national artists, Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment thru March 31, Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 426-6568
2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards — Award-winning works from northern Indiana and northwest Ohio middle and high school students, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 9, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
Afros: A Celebration of African Hair by Michael July — Contemporary photography exhibit by Brooklyn author/photographer, daily thru April 14, D’Agostino Art Gallery, Indiana Tech, Fort Wayne, 399-8626
An Artful Spring — Works by Gwen Gutwein, Patricia Weiss, Austin Cartwright and more, Tuesday-Saturday thru March 31, Crestwoods Frame Shop & Gallery, Roanoke, 672-2080
Decatur Sculpture Tour — 31 original sculptures and 15 permanent exhibits on display, walking tour maps available, thru April 1, Decatur, free, 724-2605
Echolilia — Works from Timothy Archibald and his autistic son, Eli, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
Entropy — Daniel Swartz solo exhibition explores relationship between death and mourning through combinations of mythology, mathematics, multi-dimensional physics and pop culture, Monday-Saturday thru April 1, Jennifer Ford Art, Fort Wayne, 740-1309
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
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, $5-$7 (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
Garden Party — Garden-themed works in a variety of mediums from over 30 local artists, Monday-Saturday thru March 31, Orchard Gallery of Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 436-0927
Generations: A View of Who Was Who — Works by Romare Bearden, Kara Walker, Alma Thomas, Jacob Lawrence and other African-American artists, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 9, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
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
A Mary Poppins Garden Party — Child-oriented garden exhibit, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 1, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Moments in Time: Reflecting on the Human Spirit — Elizabeth Opalenik photographs from her recent Amish series A Journey Home and her Reflecting on the Edge exhibition, daily thru March 26, Visual Arts Gallery, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
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
RAW. Untamed. Unashamed. Visions of Freedom. — Abstract romanticist works in acrylics and epoxy from Kristy Jahn, Fridays and Saturday-Thursday by appointment thru March 25, The Gallery at Pranayoga, Fort Wayne, 423-9642
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, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
Wabash County Schools Exhibition — Works by high school art students, daily thru April 16, Clark Gallery, Honeywell Center, Wabash, 563-1102