The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Arts April 29, 2005

Ginko Gallery sells student crafts

Onlookers peering through the window at the Ginko Art Gallery downtown will be bombarded with a number of eye-catching items, including colorful critters, gauzy scarves, bright skirts and shiny pottery. The gallery provides a space for individual artists to display and sell their work. Pieces by local artists intermingle with those of artists from all over the country.

Oberlin juniors Saya Ebbesen and Ona Lindauer both sell distinctive handmade silver earrings. While the two artists employ the same basic materials — silver wire and beads —their styles are characteristically different.

Ebbesen’s spinning display rack stocks long, curved, dangling earrings highlighting colorful beads with different finishes. A self-taught jeweler who started six years ago, inspiration comes from “the pleasure of being able to wear beautiful things,” she said.

Over the years, Ebbesen has gone through phases in which certain wire shapes and bead types will dominate. “Right now, there are some cubic beads that I got in Paris,” she said. Already quite the globetrotter, with roots in Japan and France, she scours from coast to coast for special materials. “I’ve found some excellent beads in Strasbourg, New York, Boston, Oberlin.”

Ebbesen joined Ginko last September, and relies on word of mouth and her twin sister Mika to generate interest. “She is like my display case,” she laughed. Her work is also very popular in France, where she first began selling.

Interest in creating jewelry started at age nine for Lindauer, who first worked with beads and floss. At 15, she was selling at craft fairs and experimenting with wire wrapping techniques. “I just enjoyed the way plain silver wire could become so elegant or fun or crazy when curled and bent,” she said.

Lindauer started using space at Ginko last year. Since that time, she has developed a business savvy concerning her earrings. “Certain designs have sold well, so I try to make more of those,” she said. However, she does have a constantly evolving style. “I have to branch out and try something new, not knowing if it will be liked. It’s a little more risky, but so much more fun.” Seemingly minor changes, such as “different gauges...can completely change the look and feel of an earring.”

The shiny earrings swaying on Lindauer’s display stand “are dominated by the wire with a bead only there as an accent.” While Ebbesen’s earrings also consist of silver wire and beads, Lindauer’s work has more fine movement. Several pairs have dangling silver stems hanging from small, light-catching beads that swing easily.

Artist and senior Iz Oztat began displaying her work at Ginko two years ago. Oztat began working with metal as a student in a course focusing on traditional Turkish art forms. Continuing her training with a Serbian master in New York, Oztat combined her refined “metal work with other materials, such as felt, glass and silk.”

The innovative mix of elements allows Oztat to produce symbolic pieces that are one-of-a-kind. “I am inspired by cultures that use body decoration as a source of empowerment,” she said. “I make talismans to protect the human body, to acknowledge its vulnerability and to actualize its potential to communicate.”

Oztat prefers to use homemade materials, melting and working her own metals. Upon graduating this May, she plans to return home to Turkey and “start a women’s collective where we make both jewelry and objects for everyday life inspired by the crafts of the region (Aegean).”

Presently owned by Liz Burgess (OC ’73), Ginko Art Gallery has been open for about a decade. Originally founded by Burgess, Kathleen Van Meter and Sharon Denslow, Burgess continues to follow the original mindset. “Everything we sell must be made by an individual or a very small studio.” This sentiment supports artists struggling to compete with larger studios who may have only a few people working for them.

Behind the gallery sit several studios in which local artists work. Sue Copeland Jones (OC ’70) works with surface design. Starting with white cloth, Jones uses various techniques such as dying, painting and silk-screening to pattern the fabric. Previous editor of Oberlin’s alumni magazine Linda Grashoff now works with photography, printing photographs on fabric and accentuating with stitching, rust and more. Other artists, such as Nancy Garver and Ted Nowixk, work in quilting, dying and painting.

Burgess specialized in health care prior to discovering a passion for art. In earlier years, she painted and silk-screened scarves. Gorgeous floral patterns adorn these scarves, with diverse smatterings of colors.

Currently, Burgess is working with “driftwood and indigo.” Her pieces “use Shibori techniques on wood,” she said. Silk thread is wrapped around a piece of wood that is then dyed with indigo. After becoming saturated with the dye, the thread is removed, leaving a specific pattern behind.

Burgess’ latest project, however, developed into a full-scale production. Under a highly monitored situation, Burgess raised her own silk worms, documenting their growth process with photographs. Eventually, the worms left their spun cocoons somewhere on a piece of indigo-dyed wood. The end result is a lovely darkened knobby branch with soft, white cocoons randomly scattered in its niches.

The gallery displays a number of items, including stained wooden switch covers, lamp-worked glass pendants, stools decorated with hand-painted pistachio shells, Origami foil earrings, sparkling pottery, hand-woven cards and patterned garments. In addition to providing a professional space for artists to display and sell their work, the gallery also houses special exhibits. May 21 until July 26, a show titled “Fragmentary Moments,” will display mixed media collages by artist Reid Wood.


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