Let’s Talk SHOP: Sayaka Ganz

Abby Leon, Paradigm Gallery Director

The artist kneels amongst a pile of salvaged wood and metal, pulling a long rod of metal free.
Photograph of the artist. Photo by Rachel Von.

Born in Yokohama, Japan, sculpture artist Sayaka Ganz grew up living in Japan, Brazil, and Hong Kong. Creating welded sculptures of animals using plastic objects, her recent work shows them in motion, frolicking in color and energy. These large-scale sculptures utilize the form of plastic objects, which she bends and breaks into swathes that mirror brush strokes, to remind us of the human impact on the environment. She also repurposes everyday utensils, like spoons and knives, into jewelry and ornaments. No piece, however small, is left unused! These wearable artworks, and her smaller, metal sculptures salvaged from larger pieces, continue her environmental activism and ability to make an audience question both what art is and why we wear what we do.

The artist sits on a metal folding chair in her studio wearing welding gloves and face covering while she welds metal pieces together.
The artist at work, welding. Photo courtesy of the artist.

I grew up with the Shinto animist belief that all things in the world have spirits. Thus, when I see discarded items on the street or thrift store shelves, I feel a deep sadness for them and am moved to make these abandoned objects happy. Currently I use mostly common plastic household items to create animal forms with a sense of movement and self-awareness. I use plastics because of the variety of curvilinear forms and colors available. I manipulate and assemble them together as brush strokes to create an effect similar to a Vincent van Gogh painting but in three dimensions.

Every once in a while I end up with smaller items that don’t have the right shape to be used in an animal sculpture but have very beautiful and delicate forms, a nice translucent quality, or mirrored surface that sparkles and I just have to keep them. So now I have a special set of smaller bins just for collecting these miniature size objects or sometimes just pieces of objects. It especially delights me when I find pairs of these intriguing items, because it means I can turn them into earrings.

Collecting and sorting is about 75% of this process. Once I have a few pairs that are exciting to me, I spend a few hours to make the cuts, file down and shape edges (if necessary), drill tiny holes, and connect them with jump rings to the earring hooks.

Lately, I’ve experimented with thinner scrap steel to make flowers. For many years I stayed away from thin materials like this because they are tricky to weld. Now, I have the skills and curiosity to do some explorations. I am really not interested in flat sheets, they seem too rigid; I much prefer to work with objects that have a visible history embedded in their forms. These sheets are thin enough that I can cut most of the objects on the shear. I use a silver sharpie to draw the shapes of petals on the side of the object. I am careful to include as much of its original edges, holes, and other patterns for the edges and shapes of the petals. Similarly, if there are bent, folded, or especially wavy parts to the object I highlight and maximize those as well.

I cut the sepals and receptacle/stem out of this piece because it was bent into a nice, tapering form that could be cut and manipulated to fit the back of the flower.

The leaves were cut from these fins off of an old, terribly crushed heating element. The edges have notches which I incorporated to create the serrated outline. The bent surface with big holes match well with the petals.

Once the sculpture is all welded together, I patina the spots where I welded to make the surface more uniform.

Hibiscus, $450.00

Still looking for holiday gifts this season? Come to FWMoA this Thursday, December 8th from 5pm-8pm and shop the jewelry at the Paradigm Gallery, including earrings by Sayaka Ganz!

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