P O W E L L, W y o. - Miles City, Mont., sculptor and gallery owner Eiko J. Ozawa came to Powell recently to install a multimedia exhibit in Northwest Gallery. Titled "Eiko Ozawa: Installation Artist," her show will be displayed through Friday, Oct. 12.
Gallery director Denise Kelsay said viewers who've already visited the gallery have shared observations like, "It feels like I've just entered an undersea world," and "Makes me think I'm in a petri dish!"
Their responses are triggered by nearly 200 three-dimensional paper sculptures rising from the floor and clinging to the walls of the gallery in groupings and patterns that give many visitors "a sense of being inside a totally different environment," Kelsay said. "It's interesting to see how individuals interpret that environment differently. It's as though art has become place." Instead of the normal expectation of stoically viewing works of art, Kelsay said gallery visitors seem to find themselves plunged right away into a complex setting inspired by the art around them.
"My images share a surrealistic sensibility of fantasy," Ozawa said. "I create an imaginary environment within an intimate enclosure with sculptural objects. I enjoy the combination of the pictorial quality of the sculpture settings and the actual physicality of being surrounded by three-dimensional objects in space."
Ozawa said the pieces on display in Northwest Gallery are a combination of four previous installations from the past three years. While the installation in Powell is inspired in part by the shape and dimensions of the gallery and ultimately takes on a life of its own, it is drawn from installations with titles like "Underscape," "Underscape II," "Don't let me be the last" and "Chase."
"I worked on one small setting at a time," Ozawa said. "Some pieces are reworked or recycled from earlier works. Some small new pieces are added to tie some areas together."
All are created from paper, using wood, Styrofoam or chicken wire armatures. Ozawa explains why paper has been her favorite medium for the last decade by saying, "I have a special fascination and love for papers of all sorts," she said. "Although the permanence of some industrial materials is appealing, they cannot express the transitory or illusory quality of change in paper."
After graduating magna cum laude in 1989 from the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio, Ozawa earned a master's degree in fine arts at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She's since moved to Miles City, Mont., where she's been involved in two separate ventures, first as a co-founder of the B.A.G. Gallery (Bohemian Artists Guild Gallery) and as owner and sole proprietor of Dancing Grey Art Studio.
Her award-winning art has been exhibited primarily in Montana, Colorado and New Mexico.
"Eiko Ozawa: Installation Artist" is displayed through Friday, Oct. 12, in Northwest Gallery. Located in the Cabre Building, the gallery is open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission is free.