This year's Ohio State Fair will feature the works of two Gahanna artists in its Fine Arts Exhibition.
Alicia Shouts, marketing and public-relations director for the Ohio Expo Center & State Fair, said only 361 pieces were accepted from 2,056 entries.
Celebrating artists' work inspired by nature, she said, the 2019 Fine Arts Exhibition will have a new perspective, focusing on individuals who work in minimally altered natural materials including stone, minerals, wood, botanicals, paper arts, clay and other organic matter.
One of the contributors, 22-year Gahanna resident Eliana Saari, 51, said she's honored to be part of the exhibition.
"It is very competitive, and being among such talented artists from all over Ohio, it is very humbling and rewarding," she said.
Saari was born in Medellin, Colombia, South America, where she received an associate's degree in fashion design.
Soon after, she said, she moved to the United States and received a bachelor's degree in art and Spanish from Otterbein College (as it previously was known) and a master's degree in printmaking in 2002 from Ohio State University.
Saari said her fair entry, "Butterfly Bike," is a relief woodcut print on Chinese rice paper.
"I made 'Butterfly Bike' as a birthday present for my husband," she said. "He is an avid cyclist who not only loves the sport but (also) really appreciates the actual bicycles: the design, the materials and the engineering. Cycling is also one of the main sports in Colombia."
Saari said butterflies also have become important to her, because they represent the incredible inexplicable magic within the universe.
"Their graceful, light and whimsical nature inspires happiness and above all, hope," she said. "These small creatures are a symbolic representation of change and premonition.
" 'Butterfly Bike' is more than just an image of a bicycle. It is the representation of many things that are dear to my heart: my husband, my culture and hope."
Over the past 20 years, Saari said, she has split her time between teaching and making art professionally.
She is a faculty member of the art department at Ohio Dominican University and has exhibited her work nationally and internationally.
In 2008, she was awarded the Artist in Residence Exchange in Dresden, Germany, by the Ohio Arts Council.
In 2016 and 2017, she received a printmaking award for her work in the state fair's Fine Arts Exhibition, a show in which she has participated the past 17 years.
Saari also is a member of the Phoenix Rising Cooperative in Columbus.
Gahanna resident Margaret Waggoner, 74, is a first-time participant in the fair's exhibition with her entry, "Summer Bobbles."
It features colorful handmade floral resin bracelets.
"I was thrilled to be accepted into the show," she said. "At a young 74, I am always exploring new mediums to play with and design."
For the past two years, Waggoner said, she has been creating art with resin.
"The process can be very challenging, but I love the final outcome," she said. "Whether it is used to enhance an acrylic canvas with depth, or used in molds to create fun objects such as jewelry, the medium has endless possibilities for eye-catching creations."
The process to make "Summer Bobbles" started with dye-enhanced resin that was poured into a mold.
"Once cured, the pieces are sanded and polished with patience, as it takes six levels of sanding to create the final glossy finish," Waggoner said. "The bracelets are then embellished with ornate hand-poured resin flowers."
In addition to resin, she enjoys working with acrylics to create landscapes and botanical series, she said.
"My in-home studio provides me with great joy and comfort," Waggoner said.
Over the past few years, many of her creations have gone on to benefit the nonprofit Friends Ministry in Franklinton.
Waggoner said her next artistic challenge is a resin river table.
"This will allow me to physically incorporate my love for the outdoors with creative color and flow," she said. "I will be encasing a live-edge crosscut slab of black locust to create my one-of-a-kind table."
The Ohio State Fair runs through Aug. 4 at 717 E. 17th Ave. in Columbus.
General admission costs $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and children ages 6-12. Children ages 5 and younger are admitted free.
For more information, visit ohiostatefair.com or call 888-646-3976, toll-free.