Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Creating Stunning Messages of Hope from Discarded Plastic Objects


As I scan the Internet for interesting ways that plastics are being reused, repurposed, and recycled, increasingly I find brilliantly creative works of art — made of plastics. The horse sculpture above is one, and it’s a show-stopper. Even more interesting is how the artist creates and her motivation.

The red-crested Japanese crane

The red-crested Japanese crane

Sayaka Ganz of Fort Wayne, IN, creates exciting sculptures of running horses, large birds and other organic forms by combining unwanted, discarded plastic items she finds in thrift shops and elsewhere. The horse’s mane is largely made of kitchen utensils.

How did she come to choose this method? Ganz, who was born in Japan, says, “Japanese Shinto beliefs are such that all objects and organisms have spirits, and I was taught in kindergarten that objects that are discarded before their time weep at night inside the trash bin. This became a vivid image in my mind.”

She says building the sculptures helps her understand situations that surround her. She is reminded that, although there is conflict now, there is also a solution in which all the pieces can coexist peacefully; that despite wide gaps in some areas and small holes in others, when seen from a distance the works

offer great beauty and harmony. “Through my sculptures,” she says, “I transmit a message of hope.”

This public are was installed in 2010 at the Huntington Center, Toledo, OH

Public art, Sayaka Ganz, installed in 2010 at the Huntington Center, Toledo, OH.

The artist has 30 plastic bins full of color-sorted plastic objects in her basement, and when she has enough of one color to work with, she decides what to make. Currently very interested in animals in motion, she researches the various gallops, strides, flights and dives of different species.

Ganz believes it is very difficult to think far into the future regarding our ecological footprint. She does not want to condemn using plastics, she says, or the desire for a more convenient, easier life. She states that the best way artists can reduce waste is to show what can be done with these mundane objects and how beautiful they can be.

“When we think of these things as beautiful, we value them,” says Ganz. “If we value our resources we will waste less.”

The photos here are a small sample of her extensive body of work, which can be seen on her website. Her work also will be on display until May 19, 2013 at the Robert Hull Fleming Museum on the University of Vermont campus, and from November 1, 2013 through January 24, 2014 at the Sheldon Swope Art Museum in Terre Haute, IN.

The escalator wall art is made mostly of discarded plastic objects

Discarded plastic objects in the escalator wall art.












2 Responses to “Creating Stunning Messages of Hope from Discarded Plastic Objects”

  1. Incredible work and insight! It looks as though the artist’s website was listed improperly in the link. I found her work on

  2. Mr. Walters, thank you for catching the error in the link to Ms. Ganz website. On the other hand, I’m happy you enjoyed her work. I did, too.

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