September 29, 2005
One of three award winners from the Fifth
Regional Exhibition in January, Sayaka Ganz, the
young metal sculptor, brings a wispy breath of
freshness to Artlink's Regional Winners show set
to open next Friday and run through November 9.
That's not to diminish the efforts of
photo-magician Steve Perfect or the figurative
water colors of Gwen Gutwein, whose works will
complete the three-person exhibition.
The diminutive Ganz, who teaches drawing and
design fundamentals at IPFW, simply scores high
with her maturely executed menagerie of deer,
horses, large cats, dogs, eagles and cranes.
(Note: These are not your Walt Disney-like,
anthropomorphic versions of critters rendered to
take up space on an office desk..)
Using rusted scrap iron and steel elements
scavenged from local yards Ganz spot welds the
sometimes raw, sometimes reshaped, pieces in
skeletonal, realistic representations of her
wildlife pets. The business end of a pitchfork is
caressed to form a horseÂs mane. A handleless
trowel becomes one ear; a thick hinge, partially
folded, suggests the other. Pieces of bicycles -
sprockets, frames, fenders, chains - together
with a small birdcage are arranged as the animalÂ
s innards. Using a Miller arc welder frees one
hand to position and hold an element while
tacking in place with the other.
But more than the masterful craftsmanship and
technique Ganz displays in her pieces it is the
refined, riveting vision she shows in their
conception that marvels.
"The scrap metal is ultimately what triggers my
imagination," writes the artist. "Every piece has
its own history and memory - bent, torn and
rusted from wear and the elements. Looking at
them inspires me, and instinctively I see a dog's
head, a limb, and a deer's back. Sometimes they
end up getting used in some other way, or they
are rediscovered anew. The whole process has a
great sense of mystery that I find exciting.
"It is always the one subtle piece that I place
in an unexpected way that makes the animal come
to life in my eyes. I try to push consciously the
overall asymmetry of the stance and the structure
of each body. This, I feel, separates my work
from some of the other scrap metal animal works
that I've seen."
"Indeed some viewers may liken Ganz's work to
the bronze horses of Deborah Butterfield, but
those equines are often initially molded then
cast in bronze or other materials. In addition,
Butterfield's work in some cases lack the
animation Ganz gives to her works. The comparison
is to a horse of a different color.
Ganz's influences are many, varied and even surprising.
"I actually earned my BFA from Indiana
Bloomington in printmaking which I continue to
practice and enjoy," the articulate teacher
explains. "I count among my influences the works
of Mark Tobey and Jackson Pollock. It's a puzzle
to some [even her former professors] that I can
encompass appreciation for both the abstract and
"It was toward the end of her degree program
that Ganz was first introduced to metal work and
welding, but without a car she was challenged to
scout out the raw materials she needed. Unfazed
by the lack of transport, she mined the
left-overs, the leavings that her fellow students
discarded in studio bins and outdoor containers.
One personÂs trash becomes another's treasure.
In the short time since she's left her studies
Ganz has shown in a number of exhibition's
including appearances in Bloomington, Saint
Francis, Artlink, IPFW, Arkansas, Illinois and
Huntington. She has taught origami classes, catalogued
prints at IU and developed clip art illustrations
of modern and traditional Japanese objects. She
spends Saturdays teaching her native tongue to
elementary students in Indianapolis, and there is
talk of a teaching installation at the Fort Wayne
Museum of Art.
Born in Yokohama, Ganz traveled with her family
to Brazil, Hong Kong and back to Japan before
landing in Bloomington 10 years ago. Throughout
her youth and adolescence the artist developed an
affinity and love for both animals and
"As a young child I remember getting very
excited when I first learned how to make origami
animals," she recalled. "My sculptures reflect my
experience of searching for abstract shapes and
the folds of paper that come together to create
the image of an animal."
Therein exists a certain irony which became
apparent during a recent visit with the artist at
the modest home she shares with fellow art
teacher and husband Chris (himself an
accomplished printmaker), located within the
proverbial stone's throw from the IPFW campus.
Sayaka's studio, situated in a small detached
garage, nearly spills over with crates, boxes,
bins and buckets of patina-coated scrap metal. So
much so that at first glance it is difficult to
discern her finished pieces against the backdrop
of the weighty objects awaiting assembly.
Then, after a short studio tour - poof! - we're
sitting at the dining room table tackling the
intricacies of folding a paper crane. My initial
presentation of an origami sampan paled in
comparison to her version of the internationally
recognized symbol of peace.
From heavy metal to delicate paper folding Ganz
demonstrates an unusual touch that is both rare
and serenely satisfying.
Check her stuff out along with the other award
winners at Artlink. Ganz does have a website
under construction, but one can visit an earlier
version courtesy of her webmaster sister-in-law
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