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The Shapeshifter

Nikki Grattan | October 30, 2012 | Lifestyle Story Culture

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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