Sayaka Ganz Reclaimed Creations



Sayaka Ganz was born in Yokohama, Japan and grew up living in Japan, Brazil, and Hong Kong. Raised with the Shinto animism belief that all things in the world have spirits, when she sees discarded items on the street or thrift store shelves, she feels a deep sadness for them and is moved to make the abandoned objects happy. Ganz uses common household items to create animal forms with a sense of movement and self-awareness. She uses plastics because of the variety of curvilinear forms and colors available. She manipulates and assembles them together as brush strokes to create an effect similar to a Van Gogh painting in three dimensions.

Ganz believes that one of the important tasks for artists of our time is to bring more of the natural world back into people's lives, especially in urban areas. When we encounter the true wonders of nature, the beauty we behold transcends our intellects and reaches directly to our hearts. She desires a similar response from viewers of her work; to provoke a re-examination of our relationship to the natural world.

Ganz’s work is also about perceiving harmony, even in situations that appear chaotic from the inside. When observing her sculptures up close, one might see gaps, holes and items being held on only by small points; step away, however, and the sculptures reveal the harmony created when the objects are aligned to the same general (but not identical) direction. Similarly, it is important to gain perspective by stepping back from current problems and look at the larger picture. Then one can perceive the beauty and patterns that exist. Ganz tends to be very analytical about problems, but when she looks too hard and closely at the details, all she sees are gaps and differences of opinions. When she steps back, she can see that although we may approach the problem from different angles, we often have larger goals in common.

Emergence, 2013. Reclaimed plastic objects, painted steel and aluminum, hardware, wire, cable ties, 72 x 72 x 84“.

The powerful forward movement of galloping horses was one of the first visions I had for the 3D impressionist style I was developing. My focus turned to the movement of each animal to influence my selection of length and form of the objects I used as brush strokes and the angle at which I attached each item on the armature. I took horseback riding lessons as a child when my family lived in Brazil and later in Hong Kong. Having experienced the movement and speed while riding on the horses, feeling the wind against my skin and going through my hair, and the power of each galloping stride, fed my imagination as I worked on these sculptures.


Nirvana, 2015. Reclaimed plastic objects, wire, cable ties, 28 x 50 x 32“.

In this sculpture I wanted to show a quieter, calmer, and deliberate energy of a bird that is about to land. I chose the “bird of paradise” for the vibrancy of its colors, partly inspired by a quote from American writer John Berry, “The bird of paradise alights only upon the hand that does not grasp”. The color scheme is taken from nature but I chose to give the colors more vibrancy and contrast, to make them similar to those used at many Japanese and Chinese temples and shrines as protection from evil. The use of symbolic colors and bold shapes in the bird’s head gives it an appearance that is ancient and new at the same time.

この作品で私は、極楽鳥が静かに地上に降り立つと きの厳かな様子を表現したいと思いました。極楽鳥 は色彩が美しく、アメリカの作家ジョンベリーの言 葉 に 刺激されました 。赤 、ピンク、緑 、黄 色 など自 然界にもよくある色ですが、この作品ではさらに日 本や中国の神社仏閣で魔除けとして使われている極 彩色を取り入れてみました。頭の色と力強い形は古 典的であると同時に新鮮な印象を与えています。

Feng Shui, 2017. Collagraph with watercolor, 7 x 10”. Image courtesy of Sayaka Ganz.

Unlike the other prints I have made of animals from my sculptural work, this print is a more straightforward 2D interpretation of the same black skimmer, in the same swooping pose. The print made it possible for me to express a more complete environmental vision that I imagined for this piece. The bird skimming the surface of the water is simultaneously being carried by the wind and defining the space between air and water. Although this bird called “black skimmer” is a North American bird, the colors I chose to use in this print are largely influenced by my visits to the Isle of Man. The pale yellow and blue of the sky and deeper blue-green of the water are similar to the tartan colors of this island in the Irish Sea.

この版画は同じ題名の造形作品を元に、同じ鳥を同じ水面 へ向かって急降下するポーズで描きました。平面の世界 で、立体造形よりもさらに私の想像に近い、周囲の自然背 景と一体になった表現が可能になりました。水面を掠め飛 ぶ鳥は、風に運ばれると同時に空気と水の狭間の世界を創 り出していきます。このクロハサミアジサシという鳥は北 アメリカ大陸に生息する鳥ですが、この版画の色合いは私 が何度も訪れて野鳥を観察したマン島からインスピレーシ ョンをもらっています。空の薄黄色と水色、水面の青緑、 とタータン模様に使われる色を取り入れました。

Stream, 2015. Collagraph, 14 x 18”. Image courtesy of Sayaka Ganz.

I am fascinated by the way large schools of fish swim. To me it looks as if the fish is water itself, swimming in the stream and turning into the stream, creating the flow as they swim. The plate for this collagraph was meticulously constructed by pasting each individual fish shape on the substrate. The relationship of each individual fish to the whole group mimics the relationship of each plastic item to the whole sculpture in many of my works.

Although not included in this exhibition I have made a sculpture version of Stream. It is made with mostly stainless steel kitchen utensils and long, curled, intertwining wire. I find that pairing sculptures with prints allows me to express different aspects of the nature of the animal. In this case, the collagraph allowed me to create a denser school of fish, which is more true to how they appear in nature, with the suggestion of group mind rather than individual freedom.

魚の大群が泳ぐ姿にはいつも感動します。流れに乗 って、流れを作り出して、泳ぐ魚の姿が水そのもの のように見えてきます。この版画は個々の魚を注意 深く念入りに張り重ねて作り上げました。個々の魚 と群全体の関係性は、私の造形作品の中の個々の部 品と作品全体の関係性と似ています。この展覧会で は展示されていませんが、私は以前に同じタイトル (Stream)で造形作品も制作しています。その作品 は、ステンレスの台所用品や、波のようにうねり絡 み合うワイヤーでできています。この作品の場合版 画バージョンは、より密度の高い群の、より自然に 近い形の表現を可能にしてくれました。

Portal, 2017. Collagraph with watercolor, 8 x 6”. Image courtesy of Sayaka Ganz.

In the spring of 2017, I spent 3 months at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica, an artist in residence program in Venice, Italy. There, surrounded by waters of the Venetian lagoon and canals, I had the opportunity to observe many water birds. I was particularly impressed by the way a cormorant could appear to be sitting still on the water one moment, then suddenly dives under the surface of the water as if generating momentum out of thin air to go through an invisible portal. I continue to be fascinated by the way creatures gracefully move through the realm of air into the realm of water. Water being such a constant visual companion in my daily life, I found myself also observing the patterns and reflections of light on the underside of bridges, sides of buildings, and the ripple patterns on the water surface itself. I used cut out sections of fruit packaging material for the rippled pattern in this print and the patterns of light under water is carefully traced with acrylic medium.

2017年の春に私はヴェネチアのスクオラ•インテル ナ チオナレ • ディ•グラフィカというアー ティスト• イン•レジデンス•プログラムで3ヶ月間滞在しまし た。 ヴェネチアを取り巻く湿地帯にも運河にもたく さんの水鳥が生息していて、観察する機会に恵まれ ました。とくに海鵜はひっそりと水面に浮かんで泳 いでいた次の瞬間に、周囲の空間から勢いを生み出 した か の 如く、素 早く音もほとんど立てず に、見え ない扉をくぐり抜けるように水面下に潜り込んでい きます。陸上の世界と水中の世界をまたいで生活、 存在する生き物にはいつも魅了されます。水に囲ま れて生活していると、自然と、水面から橋の下面や建物の壁に反射する光や、水面の波紋を観察してい る自分がいました。この版画の水面の波紋の模様は フルーツ等を販売する時に使われるビニールネッ ト、水中の光の反射模様はアクリルで描きました。

Uta, 2013. Reclaimed plastic objects, painted aluminum, wire, cable ties, 53 x 34 x 14“.

“Uta” is a Japanese word for song, an appropirate name for this sculpture of a humpback whale, who are known to sing. Imagining the sound echoing through water and the light traveling through plastics inside the sculpture, I intentionally used mostly transparent, blue plastics in this piece. When layered and backlit translucent plastic pieces glow beautifully like stained glass. By highlighting their aesthetic appeal, I hope to help the viewers value these plastic items in their everyday lives. This is a sibling sculpture to “Ocean Song” which was made for the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s permanent educational exhibit, made at approximately the same scale, pose, and color scheme.

座頭鯨は歌を歌うことで知られているので歌と言う タイトルをつけました。主に蒼い透明なプラスチッ クを使 い、音 が 水 の 中でこだましていく、そして光 が 鯨 の 体を通り抜 けていく様 子をイメージしまし た。重なり合ったプラスチックの背後から光が当た ると、まるでステンドグラスのように 美しくみえます。美的アピールに焦点を当てることで、プラスチックと言う素材の価値を考えることにつながればと思います。この歌と兄弟作品でありほぼ同じ角度とスケールで作られたオーシャンソン グという作品が、モントレーベイ水族館に常設展示 されています。

Piccadilly, 2014. Reclaimed plastic objects, wire, cable ties, 22 1/2 x 32 1/2 x 27“.
Ramsey, 2014. Reclaimed plastic objects, wire, cable ties, 22 1/2 x 39 x 27”.

In 2011, I traveled to the Isle of Man to complete a private commission and fell in love with the small, rainy island inhabited by many native birds. In 2013, I received the Indiana Arts Commission’s “Individual Artist Program” grant to return to the Isle of Man to exhibit my work and research wild birds on the island. Cormorants, a bird also very common in Japan and used for fishing, was familiar to me. I saw cormorants on several occasions sunbathing on a river’s edge, so I decided to portray this bird in stillness rather than in flight.

These sculptures were made as a pair, with similar plastic parts that echo from one to the other.

2011年個人契約でマン島を訪れた私は、雨がちで 潤しく野 鳥 に 恵 ま れ た 小 さ な 島 の 虜 に なりました。2013年にはインディアナ州の奨励金を受けこの 島を再度訪れ、作品展を開催と同時に野鳥の観察を しました。日本では鵜飼で知られているこの鳥は、私も親しみを感じている鳥です。滞在中に何度 も川の端で日光浴をしている姿を見かけたので、飛 んでいる姿ではなく静止している姿の作品を作りま した。

この2点の作品は同じまたは類 似するプラスチックのパーツが呼応する対として作 りました。

Feng Shui, 2008. Reclaimed plastic and metal objects, wire, cable ties, 25 x 54 x 63“.

The title Feng Shui refers to the Chinese philosophy of harmonizing with the environment, and it seemed particularly well suited for this piece for two reasons. First, harmony is very important to achieve a fluid sense of movement in my assemblage style. To create a sense of dramatic speed and movement I made the leading edge of the bird’s body—front of the wings, head, and beaks the densest, with bold color contrast and objects overlapping one another to create an illusion of continuous volume. The back of the bird’s body, in comparison, is made to almost blend and disappear into the atmosphere around it, with the ends of spread wings becoming very thin and wispy. Secondly, the word “Feng Shui” in Chinese characters is written 風水 which directly translates to wind and water. The thin black feathers skim the surface of the water to fish, and to me this movement seems like a mystical power to slip into the space between wind and water.

風水は古代中国の思想で、自然のエネルギーの調和 や気の流れを生活に取り入れる知恵です。この作品 の題名を風水にした理由は2つあります。一つは、作 品の流れるような動きを作り出すためには調和がと ても重要だからです。鳥の体の前半分は大胆な色合 いで重なり合うパーツが風を切るようなシャープな 輪郭を作りあげています。反対に体の後半分は風と混ざり合って周囲の空気に溶け込んでいくように薄 く華奢に作ることである種の調和をとっています。 もう一つは、風と水を分けて考えると、水面 スレスレを飛行する鳥に風と水の狭間に滑り込む不 思議な力を感じるからです。

Mysteries, 2015–2018. Reclaimed plastic objects, wire, custom LED, hardware, Dimensions variable.

Jellyfish are such mysterious creatures. With their translucent bodies it is sometimes hard to believe that they possess the ability and intent to have basic biological functions such as capturing and eating their prey. It is difficult to discern how much of their travel path is determined by the current of the water and how much is by their own intention and instinct.

クラゲはとても不思議な生き物です。あんな透き通 った体で生命が宿っているというだけでなく、獲物 を捕らえて食べたり泳いだりする意識を持っている なんて、信じ難 いと思ってしまいます。クラゲ たち がたどり着く場所は、一体どのくらいの割合が自己 の意思で、どのくらいがその時の海の水流に定めら れているのでしょうね。

Nova, 2013. Reclaimed plastic and metal objects, wire, cable ties, 80 x 66 x 34“.

There is something quite powerful about a line of movement that starts from the solid stillness of the floor and rises upward in a beautiful arc. The shape of this line by itself already seems to embody the idea of regeneration. Since reclamation and regeneration are two of the key ideas behind my sculptures, a phoenix rising from ashes seemed a very appropriate subject. This idea is further layered by the fact that this sculpture itself is a second incarnation of a bird that I have made. I usually work on a sculpture until I am satisfied with the result and do not make major changes later on, but in this case I salvaged the head, neck, and most of the wings of an earlier bird sculpture (a yellow swan) and decided to transform it.

硬く冷たい床の静けさから大きく美しい孤を描く羽 ばたきには、何とも言えない力強さがあります。灰の中から飛び立つ不死鳥の姿は、私の造形に 対する基本的考えそのものです。再生と返還という考えは いつも私の作品の根底にあり、実際にこの作品は以 前製作した鳥の作品の生まれ変わりでもあるので す。私は一度完成した作品に後で変更を加えたりは殆どしないのですが、この不死鳥の作品は例 外で、初期の黄色いスワンの作品の頭首翼の形を基 にして今の作品に転用しました。

Marnier, 2018. Reclaimed plastic objects, wire, cable ties, 13 x 12 x 5".
Limoncello, 2018. Reclaimed plastic objects, wire, cable ties, 15 x 12 x 5".

These two fish sculptures, Marnier and Limoncello, were made during the Yard Art Symposium in Varel, Germany in 2018. Art symposiums provide artists access to materials from the local community which usually varies significantly depending on what is abundantly available in that area. For me, this opportunity provided the ability to experiment with a whole series of smaller sculptures in addition to the two large fish sculptures that were permanently installed at a public location in the local community.

この作品は2018年にドイツのバレルで開催され たシンポジウムで作ったものです。シンポジウムで は主催者側が地域のコミュニティーと提携して地元 で豊富な材料などを提供して下さることが多く、慣 れない環境や新しく出会った仲間たち、使い慣れな い道具や器具類と合わさりとても刺激的で、時には 不安要素や驚きの展開などもあります。私にとって このドイツのシンポジウムは、当初予定していた2 匹の大きな魚(地元の公共の場所に常設していただ きました)に加え、幾つもの小さい作品を試みる最 高 のチャンスを与えてくれました。

Fay, 2016. Reclaimed plastic objects, wire, cable ties, 21 x 25 x 11”.
Magnus, 2016. Reclaimed plastic objects, wire, cable ties, 24 1/2 x 23 x 10”.

Stunningly beautiful with bright and large fins and highly tolerant to poor water quality, betta fish are some of the most popular pets. The flaring fins gives me, as the artist, great creative opportunities to express movement or mood. However, they have a very alarming message for us. The population of wild bettas is declining due to environmental pollution and habitat destruction and are listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

カラフルで大きく華やかなヒレが美しいベタは見た 目によらず汚染水への免疫が強く、ペットとして世 界的に人気があります。ひらひら動くひれは作家の 私にもムードや躍動感を演出する手助けをしてくれ ます。ですがベタたちは私達へ危険のメッセージを 送っています。野生のベタは環境汚染や生息地の破 壊により減少し、今ではIUCNにより「危急 」とさ れています。

Growth (red), 2018. Reclaimed plastic ware, LED, wire, hardware, cable ties, 26 x 30 x 24”.

In 2013, I started incorporating smaller sea creatures like coral and jellyfish in some of the larger ocean-themed commissions I worked on. They started out as smaller peripheral elements to fill out the environment to highlight the large mammals that were the centerpieces of the installation. Due to the structures of these invertebrate creatures, radial symmetry was important to consider while constructing them. It led me to collect and use some of the colorful stemware and vases that crowd the shelves of thrift stores at the end of the summer each year. It seemed very natural to start experimenting with lights since some of the deep-sea invertebrates are bioluminescent, and the materials I was working with lent themselves to being illuminated from within.


Fogo, 2008. Reclaimed plastic and metal objects, painted steel, wire, cable ties, 32 x 110 x 26".

“Fogo” is a Portuguese word for “fire”. The cheetah is known to be the fastest mammal on earth, so this sculpture is all about speed and balance. Instead of portraying the cheetah in its natural colors, I chose red and orange, which in many cultures are associated with speed. Some of the toys used in this piece reflect this idea as well, such as the fireman’s hat and hot wheel tracks. The strong diagonal lines created by the legs of the cheetah and the tilt of its body add to the dynamic movement of this sculpture. I was careful not to use any lines that are perpendicular to the flow of movement. There are no lines in the armature that are completely vertical, instead everything is supported by a series of interweaving diagonal lines.

フォーゴはポルトガル語で火炎と言う意味です。チ ーターは地球上で最も速く走る動物なので、この作 品はスピード感とバランスを表現しています。色を 自然のチーターの色ではなく赤とオレンジにし、消 防士の帽子やレースカーセットのパーツを使用した のもそのためです。足を大きく伸ばし体を斜めに傾 斜させてダイナミックな動きを加えました。流れる ような動きを助長するため垂直な線は使わないよう に注意し, 色々な角度に傾斜した線を組み合わせることで安定させています。

Dolphins are known for their friendly and playful nature. These three bright-eyed explorers, Charm, Lark, and Frolic, are eager to discover beautiful new seascapes of the world. I used some cut-off edges of plastic sleds to create the overall silhouettes of these dolphins. They seemed appropriate due to the sense of movement and speed that sleds imply, as well as the elements of joy and fun that I imagine the children had while sledding.

イルカはとても友好的で楽しいことが大好きな生き 物です。この3頭の探検家たちは瞳を輝かせて美し い水中風景を開拓していきます。この作品はプラス チック製ソリの側面を切り取ってイルカの輪郭を表 現しています。ソリが象徴する躍動感やスピード、 そして子供たちが楽しく使ったであろうと想像でき るので喜びの要素も加わり、とてもイルカに相応し い素材だと思いました。

Travelers, 2013. Reclaimed plastic objects, painted aluminum, wire, cable ties, 96 x 120 x 132“.

Polar bears have become one of the most common animals used to represent creatures suffering from the effects of global warming. Although all of my work deals to some degree with the environmental issues caused by discarded plastic and metal items, Travelers was made with more conscious expression around this theme than most. Although they are portrayed happily swimming together, the mother bear has pieces from a toy dinosaur skeleton and upon close inspection it becomes evident that many of the plastic utensils are stained resulting in a yellowish tint. This piece embodies reclamation and decay simultaneously.

ホッキョクグマは地球温暖化の影響で絶滅の危機に 瀕している動物たちの代表的な存在です。私の作品は全て環境問題をテーマにプラスチック製品や金属製品の廃品を分解し再構築してできていますが、この作品は環境問題のテーマを最も意識 的に表現しています。楽しそうに泳いでいる姿ですが、近くでよく見ていただくと母熊の体には捨てられた恐竜の骨セットなども使 われており、プラスチック製 品 の 多くが 古 く、黄色帯びた色に変色していることが分かります。この作品は復活と腐敗を 同時に具体化しています。

Light, 2015. Collagraph with watercolor, 13 x 23”. Image courtesy of Sayaka Ganz.

The sculpture titled Light is the white horse of the Emergence pair, leading with bright confidence. In this print version I chose to use the same pose but have Light alone, casting warm glow into surrounding night landscape. The lateral flow of lines are used in similar direction as they are in the sculpture, but instead of stopping and disappearing shortly behind the horse’s body, the lines continue to flow in the space to represent the wind and echoes of movement. The individual sections divided by various materials within the body of the horse are larger and more pronounced by outlines in relation to the whole, but at the same time the color unifies the body.

これと同じタイトルの造形作品の作品はエマージェ ンスという二頭の中の白い馬です。版画では夜の闇 を温かく照らす光の中を駆ける馬を同じポーズ で表現 しました。壁の中から出現する造形と違い、 動きが残像 となって体の後に残り、空気が振動し共 鳴して行く様子 を版画にしました。様々な材料を使 って馬の体を構成し ていますが、それぞれの素材を 生かしつつ全体としての 統一感を色で出しました。

Fogo, 2015. Collagraph, 8 x 18”. Image courtesy of Sayaka Ganz.

This print is inspired by Japanese mythology and images of mythological creatures that were part of my childhood. “Fire cheetah”, however, is not out of folklore, but of my own imagination. Because the sculpture version of Fogo is made of red and orange reclaimed plastics and “fogo” is a Portuguese word for “fire”, I made this a “fire cheetah”. Instead of the speedy lateral strokes found in the sculpture, I chose to put more emphasis on the curved shapes of flames similar to ones from Japanese fire or spirit motif. I imagine this to be the deity of sunset, painting the sky fiery red with the dark of night following.

この炎のチーターという生き物は私が空想したもの ですが、日本文化や世界の伝説の中からいろいろな ヒントを得ています。造形バージョンのチーターは 赤やオレンジの横に流れる曲線を使ってスピード感 や力強さを表現しましたが、版画バージョンでは日 本画などの古典的な炎の形を強調しました。やがて せまり来る闇の中に輝く夕焼けの神様のイメージで す。

Growth (blue), 2018. Reclaimed plastic ware, LED, wire, hardware, cable ties, 20 x 25 x 30”.

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