Year of Publication


Competition Category

Humanities: Critical Research


Arts and Sciences




Sculpture artist Sayaka Ganz uses found plastic objects to create intricate recreations of nature. From the pair of horses in Emergence II to the monumental whale Nanami, Ganz’s work breathes new life into discarded plastic materials that would otherwise lay dormant in landfills and trash cans. Ganz herself attributes her attraction to working with alternative sculptural materials to the emphasis on Shinto animist beliefs engrained in her throughout her upbringing.

This presentation will explore the ways in which Sayaka Ganz’s Reclaimed Creations series demonstrate Aike P. Rots’s theory of the Shinto Environmentalist Paradigm which asserts that the “animistic” beliefs of the Shinto tradition, which are rooted in nature, are spiritually connected to and hold the answers to contemporary environmental issues. This presentation will also argue that Ganz’s work promotes anti-wastefulness, not through the Western environmentalist tradition of doomsday imagery and negativity, but rather through an attention to opportunities for alternative beauty.


Erin Inouye won the first place in the Humanities: Critical Research category. She is a double major in English and Art History, enrolled in both the College of Arts & Sciences and the College of Fine Arts. Additionally, she is an intern in the Learning Lab at the University of Kentucky Libraries Special Collections Research Center.

Dr. Miriam Kienle was the faculty mentor.

Included in

Fine Arts Commons