Janet Echelman is one of the most imaginative and inspiring artists of our time. A world-renowned multi-disciplinary artist who is most known for her massive, free-flowing sculptures, Echelman has been transforming urban landscapes for the last twenty years.
While on a Fulbright lectureship in India early in her career, Echelman underwent a transformative experience that would inspire her to go on to create some of the most inventive, whimsical public art installations the world had ever seen. The artist had originally arranged to give painting exhibitions throughout India, but when her paints never arrived, she was forced to extract a new vision from her surroundings instead. While in the fishing village of Mahabalipuram, Echelman became entranced by the local materials and culture, and embarked on an artistic endeavor to redefine the medium of sculpture.
Explains the artist’s biography, “While watching local fishermen bundling their nets one evening, Echelman began wondering if nets could be a new approach to sculpture: a way to create volumetric form without heavy, solid materials.” The rest, as they say, is history; at the end of her Fulbright year, Echelman had created a series of netted sculptures with help from local fishermen. She found deep inspiration in the way that these free-form “sculptures” were impacted by wind, water, and other elements, and has spent the majority of her career innovating the original design she fashioned in India.
“Janet Echelman builds living, breathing sculpture environments that respond to the forces of nature – wind, water and light – and become inviting focal points for civic life,” her biography explains. Her work is profound, groundbreaking, and has changed the way that people regard contemporary public art. Today, the artist has constructed net sculpture environments in major cities around the world. Just like how she collaborated with the fishermen in Mahabalipuram, Echelman works cooperatively with mechanical engineers, architects, lighting designers, fabricators, aeronautical engineers, and other artists to achieve awe-inspiring works of suspended public sculpture.
Details her biography, “Exploring the potential of unlikely materials, from fishing net to atomized water particles, Echelman combines ancient craft with cutting-edge technology to create her permanent sculpture at the scale of buildings.” Echelman is world-renowned for her imaginative, gravity-defying vision; the way that she has transformed urban landscapes and invited creative contemplation of a metropolitan environment is utterly astounding. She favors the way that her sculptures create new textures and shapes amid the stark, hard-edged urban architecture, and has continued to challenge herself to innovate her own designs with every new project she undertakes.
Janet Echelman has traveled around the world to install her incredible sculptures; she’s brought softness and shape from Singapore to Seattle and everywhere in between. Her latest sculpture project brought her to Vancouver, where she erected her largest work to date in honor of TED Conference’s 30th anniversary. “Studio Echelman installed its largest, most interactive sculpture installation to date [in] March, 2014. The monumental aerial sculpture spanned 745 feet between the 24-story Fairmont Waterfront and the Vancouver Convention Center, challenging the artist to work on her most ambitious scale yet – over twice the size of her largest previous sculpture,” details her website.
Be sure to visit Janet Echelman’s website to see photographs of all of her incredible sculptural installations.
Image 1: Christopher Michel via Flickr CC
Image 2: Dimitry B. via Flickr CC
Image 3: Caneles via Flickr CC
Image 4: davitydave via Flickr CC