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The Shapeshifter

Artist Sandra Ono turns dollar-store finds into anatomical sculptures.

Ono melts clear sandwich bags to bits, then fuses them together with hot glue to create a piece inspired by animal pelts.

Sandwich bags turn opaque and curl with heat from an iron.

Rows of plastic wrap painted with acrylic five times over.

After the pieces dry, Ono peels the paint lines off to form the basis of a larger sculpture resembling bark.

Coiled Ace bandages that have been coated with glue to make them rigid. Ono created these forms with rib cages in mind. She studies books and websites on biology and human anatomy for ideas.

A full view of a five-foot-tall sculpture made from party streamers, "This studio is near hiking trails, so visitors would often come in with their dogs," says Ono. "I have to cover it in plastic wrap just in case a dog mistook it for a tree."

Ono in the Project Space, a 1,800-square-foot studio provided by the Headlands Center for the Arts.

Sandra Ono doesn't mess around with high-minded art supply shops. The Berkeley-based sculptor trolls the fluorescent-lit aisles of San Pablo Avenue dollar stores with one criterion in mind: the potential for transformation.

Ono takes everyday, bulk-bought objects like balloons, aluminum foil, Ziploc bags, mop heads, and rubber bands and...makes them strange. She manipulates her materials—melting, twisting, and unraveling—to create biomorphic forms that recall the human body, gleaning inspiration from anatomy, physiology, and biology.

This summer, Ono was an artist-in-residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin, where she was awarded a five-week stint in the 1,800-square-foot Project Space. There, she set up six workstations for various projects incorporating Ace bandages, nail polish, sand, and acrylic paint. Though Ono's organic sculptures may appear stark and eerie at first glance, upon closer inspection the artfully distorted household items—strips of dried paint, rib cage-like rolled bandages, melted plastic bags resembling sea anemones, and more—become evocative and unexpectedly familiar.

 

In The Make is an online arts journal featuring studio visits with artists and designers. This is the latest in a monthly series appearing exclusively in San Francisco.

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