Janet Echelman

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Janet Echelman
Janet Echelman at the 2011 TED Conference with her art.jpg
Echelman at the 2011 TED Conference
Born February 19, 1966 (1966-02-19) (age 50)
Tampa, Florida
Nationality United States
Education Harvard University
Known for Sculpture
Public Art

Janet Echelman (born February 19, 1966) is an American sculptor and artist. She builds living, breathing sculpture environments that respond to the forces of nature — wind, water and light — and become inviting focal points for civic life. 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. Experiential in nature, the result is sculpture that shifts from being an object you look at, to something you can get lost in.[1]

Recent prominent works include: “Her Secret is Patience” spanning two city blocks in downtown Phoenix, “Water Sky Garden” which premiered for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, “She Changes” on the waterfront in Porto, Portugal, and “Every Beating Second” in San Francisco Airport’s new Terminal Two.

Recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Echelman was named an Architectural Digest 2012 Innovator for “changing the very essence of urban spaces.” Her TED talk “Taking Imagination Seriously” has been translated into 33 languages and is estimated to have been viewed by more than a million people worldwide.[2]

An upcoming project is at the University of Oregon. The remaking of Dilworth Park on the west side of Philadelphia City Hall has been turned into a garden of dry-mist.

Major works[edit]

Janet Echelman leads Studio Echelman, which explores the cutting edge of sculpture, public art, and urban transformation. The design team focuses on the development and creation of large-scale artworks. The permanent and temporary projects draw inspiration from ancient craft and modern technology. Using materials from woven fiber to atomized mist, the studio creates living, breathing pieces that respond to the forces of nature – wind, water and light.

By combining meaning with physical form, it strives to create a visceral experience in diverse city environments, accessible to all. These sculpture environments embody local identity and invite residents to form a personal and dynamic relationship with the art and place. Each project becomes intimately tied to its environment through the use of local materials and working methods, thus strengthening neighborhood connections and promoting a distinctive civic character.

The design team spans the globe. Studio Echelman is privileged to collaborate with brilliant aeronautical and mechanical engineers, architects, lighting designers, landscape architects, and fabricators.

"The Space Between Us", Santa Monica, CA, 2013[edit]

Janet Echelman was commissioned to create the headlining sculpture for GLOW 2013, the triennial art event for site-specific works on Santa Monica Beach. Lasting only one night – from dusk to dawn – the beach is transformed into a “playground for thoughtful and participatory, temporary art.”

On the night of September 28, 2013, more than 150,000 people attended GLOW and participated in sculpting the earthwork beneath Echelman’s aerial sculpture, “The Space Between Us,” making it one of the largest public art events in the U.S. In an article published the morning after the event, The New York Times credited Echelman’s work for “giving crafts a coolly conceptual edge.”

Echelman’s ground-breaking work utilized experimental elements, including shaped earth and an audio component that synced to a pulsating lighting program. The artist and her team collaborated with City Public Works staff to create carved sand indentations for visitors to enter and gaze up at the aerial sculpture, becoming a part of the immersive experience.

Echelman views this commission as a point of growth and departure. “The beach is the charged zone between human society and uncontrolled nature,” she said. “I’m interested in sculpting earth and sky, and placing ourselves in between. It’s the collision of heaviness and lightness, between our gravity-bound bodies which walk on sand, and the part of us which seeks to float in air, or in water.”

“My goal was to invite people to have an ephemeral sensory experience without words – a moment of contemplation that can evoke preverbal memory and engage our Limbic brain.”

Produced by the Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Division and the Santa Monica Arts Foundation, the goal of the evening was to “break through the public’s preconceived notion of what art can be, encouraging both thoughtful contemplation and energetic participation,” said GLOW organizers.

"1.26", Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2012-13[edit]

Janet Echelman’s 230-foot-long aerial sculpture was installed over the Amstel River from atop the Amsterdam Stopera, which houses the City Hall and Muziektheater. The sculpture is a made entirely of soft materials, including Spectra® fiber, a material 15 times stronger than steel by weight, which allows it to attach to existing architecture without extra reinforcement. A unique lighting program integrates an undulation of changing and contrasting colors, reflected on the water below. The sculpture becomes an ethereal form which transforms day to night, and in darkness appears to “float in thin air.”

The form and content of the artwork draws inspiration from the interconnectedness of Earth’s systems. The artist used laboratory data from NASA and NOAA on the effects of the 2010 Chile earthquake, and the resulting 1.26-microsecond shortening of the Earth’s day. The sculpture’s three-dimensional form is inspired by the Echelman’s mapping of tsunami wave heights across an entire ocean.

As the signature project of the 2012–2013 Amsterdam Light Festival, the artwork underscores global interdependence.

“In Amsterdam, the river and canals have been central to city life for the last four centuries,” said Echelman. “The light reflections on the water’s surface become a focus of the sculpture here, creating an opportunity for contemplation. The sculpture invites you to pause and consider how we’re knitted into a larger fabric.”

Rogier van der Heide, curator of the Amsterdam Light Festival, said Echelman’s sculpture “provided more meaning to public spaces, showed the beauty of simplicity, and – probably most importantly – brought people together.”

The installation in the Netherlands was the European premiere of the 1.26 project, which has now been exhibited on three continents. It was originally suspended from the Denver Art Museum to commemorate the inaugural Biennial of the Americas in 2010. In 2011, it travelled to Australia, where it was suspended in front of Sydney’s historic Town Hall.

"1.26", Sydney Australia, 2011[edit]

The second installation of the 1.26 aerial sculpture was in 2011, when it was suspended from Sydney Town Hall as part of the Powerhouse Museum’s Love Lace Exhibition, in coordination with the City of Sydney’s Art and About Festival. The artwork draws inspiration from NASA laboratory data on the 2010 Chile earthquake’s ensuing tsunami, and the 1.26-microsecond shortening of the day that resulted from the earthquake’s redistribution of Earth’s mass. The work underscores the interdependence of the earth’s systems and the global community. It asks the viewer to pause and consider the larger fabric of which they are a part.

Studio Echelman generated a 3D model of the tsunami in collaboration with scientists from NOAA (United States National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration). Software was used to transform the digital model into a sculptural form. Hand-knotted models were made to achieve the sculpture’s complex shape.

The artwork utilizes Spectra®, a material 15 times stronger than steel by weight. The mesh was knotted by machine in order to withstand 90 mph winds, but is engineered to evoke the intricacy of handmade lace.

Every Beating Second, San Francisco, CA, 2011[edit]

At the San Francisco International Airport, Echelman transforms the terminal with fictional nature that subtly engages viewers with real and imagined natural forces. Her sculpture installation cuts three round skylights into the ceiling, from which descend delicate layers of translucent colored netting to create three voluptuous volumetric forms. A series of shaded outlines below are embedded into the terrazzo floor, reflecting the precise shadows that would occur on the summer solstice if the sun could penetrate through the roof. During the day, sun streams through the skylights to cast real shadows that interplay with the fictional shadows in the floor. At night, the artist’s program of colored lighting makes the sculpture glow from indigo to purple, magenta to red-orange. Computer-programmed mechanized air-flow animates the fluidly-moving sculpture at different intervals throughout the day, as if the wind could magically flow through solid walls.[3]

The artist achieved the sculpture’s physical presence by braiding fibers and knotting twine into sculptural netting suspended from powder-coated steel armatures. Despite their large scale, more than 120 feet in circumference for a single form, her sculpture is experienced as ephemeral and weightless. Visually, the sculpture evokes the contours and colors of cloud formations over the Bay and hints at the silhouette of the Golden Gate Bridge. Aesthetically, the sculpture looks both backwards and forwards, drawing its color from the heyday of psychedelic music, the Summer of Love, and San Francisco’s prominence in the beat poetry movement, while also referencing the contemporary bay area as a hub of innovation and interconnectivity for the world of technology.

The title, Every Beating Second, referring to a line by beat poet Allen Ginsberg, represents the artist’s interest in heightening awareness of the present moment:

in the physical world
moment to moment
I must put down
every recurring thought -
stop every beating second (11-16)

1.26, Denver, CO, 2010[edit]


For its first installation, 1.26 was suspended from the roof of the 7-story Denver Art Museum above downtown street traffic to commemorate the inaugural Biennial of the Americas. "Biennial of the Americas Temporary Art Installation on Janet Echelman's website". 

The City of Denver asked the artist to create a monumental yet temporary work exploring the theme of the interconnectedness of the 35 nations that make up the Western Hemisphere. She drew inspiration from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s announcement that the February 2010 Chile earthquake shortened the length of the earth’s day by 1.26 microseconds by slightly redistributing the earth’s mass. Exploring further, Echelman drew on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) simulation of the earthquake’s ensuing tsunami, using the 3-dimensional form of the tsunami’s amplitude rippling across the Pacific as the basis for her sculptural form.

The temporary nature of the Biennial and its accelerated timeline precluded the artist’s use of a permanent steel armature, as employed in her previous monumental permanent commissions. Instead, 1.26 pioneers a tensile support matrix of Spectra® fiber, a material 15 times stronger than steel by weight. This low-impact, super-lightweight design makes it possible to temporarily attach the sculpture directly to the façade of buildings – a structural system that opens up a new trajectory for the artist’s work in urban airspace.

The soft materials allow the artwork to be animated by the wind. Its fluidly moving form contrasts with the rigid surfaces of the surrounding urban architecture. At night, colored lighting transforms the work into a floating, luminous form while darkness conceals the support cables.

A book about 1.26 includes an essay by Sanford Kwinter, Professor of Architectural Theory and Criticism at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, cofounder of the journal Zone and Zone Books, and author of Architectures of Time: Towards a Theory of the Event in Modernist Culture.

Water Sky Garden, Richmond, BC, 2009-10[edit]

Water Sky Garden transforms the plaza surrounding the Richmond Olympic Oval, official venue for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games speed-skating events, into a permanent art environment for the community. Echelman’s design engages the space all around the viewer – water, sky, and pedestrian pathways – to create an immersive whole using rock, wood, water, air bubble fountains, steel, netting, and light.

Red-stained cedar boardwalks lead visitors through the artwork. Water purifying aerators draw shapes with bubbles on the surface of a pond that collects runoff water from the Ovals’ 5-acre roof, while suspended net-forms undulate overhead in the wind, becoming sky-lanterns during nighttime illumination.

The red boardwalk and “sky lanterns” are inspired by the city’s cultural communities. Richmond has the largest immigrant population by proportion of any city in Canada with the majority of those immigrants being of Asian descent. The wooden boardwalk follows a curving path similar to the choreography of the Dragon Dance, a performance frequently seen in local Chinese festivals. The Nitobe Japanese garden and the Sun Yat Sen Chinese garden of the Vancouver region are important references, especially their material presence, intersecting paths and reflective ponds, and their framing of views.

Water Sky Garden is a contemplative art environment that encourages participants to linger. The overhead netted forms provide a new visual experience, putting art in the sky; at night they glow like lanterns. Nets have a special relationship with the site, as the native Musqueam Band continue to teach their children to fish using nets at this particular bend in the Fraser River to this day, and this area has a history of the fishing/canning industry which employed many multicultural groups.

This project was achieved through Echelman’s collaboration with a team of international award-winning architects, engineers, lighting and water consultants, landscape architects, and fabricators.

Her Secret Is Patience, Phoenix, AZ, 2009[edit]

Her Secret is Patience, the 145-ft-tall aerial sculpture in Phoenix, Arizona, is a new civic icon hailed for contributing to the revitalization of downtown. Suspended above the new 2-city block Civic Space Park, the sculpture is monumental yet soft, fixed in place but constantly in motion, it dances gently in the air, choreographed by the flux of desert winds.

The large 3-dimensional multi-layered form is created by a combination of hand-baiting and machine-loomed knotting, and is the result of a collaborative effort with an international team of award-winning aeronautical and mechanical engineers, architects, lighting designers, landscape architects, and fabricators. This work redefines the ‘art space,’ by bringing viewers eyes upwards to the sky, focused on a new celestial object.

During the day, the sculpture hovers high above heads, treetops, and buildings. The sculpture creates what the artist calls “shadow drawings,” which she says are inspired by Phoenix’s cloud shadows that captivated her from the first site visit.

At night, the illumination changes color gradually through the seasons. The goal in selecting the colors is to provide residents some small climate relief through color, adding cool hues in summer, and warm tones in winter. The lighting design also changes what portion of the sculpture is illuminated, leaving parts obscured in mystery, much like the phases of the moon.

The artist was inspired by the region’s distinctive monsoon cloud formations and the shadows they cast, in addition to forms found in desert flora and the local fossil record. The title quotes American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote, ‘Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.’

Expanding Club, New York City, NY, 2007[edit]

In this work, originally installed at the Museum of Arts and Design, Echelman interprets the most violent weapon that humans have ever created, using one of the oldest and most humble techniques of tying things together.

The artist was first inspired to make the choreography of the wind visible during her time in India, watching the fisherman pulling in their catch: “I was mesmerized by the form of their nets and the fact that they were so changeable and flexible. They became this three-dimensional form that had no weight.”

The funnel-like space of the Museum’s atrium inspired Echelman to create a cloudlike formation, and with recent news reports of North Korea’s nuclear weapons testing, it became a nuclear mushroom cloud. The colors represent the flags of each of the countries known to have detonated such weapons in chronological order: United States, Soviet Union (represented by Russia’s flag), United Kingdom, France, People’s Republic of China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea.

“I was surprised to discover that all 4 flags of countries from the earlier phase were composed of the same colors – red, white, and blue. The last 4 countries had more earthy colors – green, orange, and yellow. I began to wonder what visual affinities the first countries might share, and whether the last four countries’ earthy colors might be related to the fact that they were formed more recently.”

"Line Drawing", Tampa, FL, 2006-07[edit]

Echelman was drawn to the Poe Parking Garage site precisely because there was nothing to draw her to it. Its concrete construction method typifies the kind of flavorless, colorless structure that ultimately disappears from public memory.

The artist began her research by asking people in Tampa what they thought of the garage. The vast majority couldn’t recall its appearance or even its exact location, despite the fact that it takes up an entire city block of waterfront in downtown Tampa.

The site called for an infusion of warmth and color sufficient to draw people inside and through the space. The site’s layout inspired two-part installation design. The first component is physical: a 3-dimensional line drawing suspended from the ceiling. The second component lacks a physical presence – it is a projection of the sculpture, creating a 400-foot-long shadow drawing.

Echelman sees this project as a contemporary interpretation of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, using urban infrastructure as a modern-day cave wall. The shadow drawing becomes more complex as it introduces a dialogue with the existing linear pattern embedded in the concrete wall that directly expresses the structure of the garage and the way it was made.

She Changes, Porto, Portugal, 2005[edit]

Main article: She Changes

Using color and material to invoke the memory of the site’s history as a fishing and industrial center, this three-dimensional multi-layer net floats over the Praça da Cidade do Salvador, Matosinhos (Porto). It is credited as the first permanent, monumental public sculpture to use an entirely soft and flexible set of membranes moving fluidly in wind. The work casts cinematic shadow drawings onto the ground, further highlighting the “wind choreography.” The city has made the sculpture its graphic symbol and residents give different interpretations of the work, from fishing nets, ships and masts of the Portuguese maritime history, the red-and-white striped smokestacks of the area’s industrial past, to Portuguese lace, sea creatures, and ripples in water.

Three steel poles, ranging in height from 25 to 50 meters, are painted white with red stripes to reference nearby smokestacks and lighthouses. The poles support a 20-ton steel ring, from which the one-ton net is suspended. The ring greets the ocean at a slant, ranging from 13.5 meters off of the ground at the lowest point and 27 meters at the highest.

The net consists of 36 individual mesh sections in different densities, hand-joined along all sides into a multi-layered form. The net material, TENARA® Architectural Fiber, is a 100% UV-resistant, colorfast fiber made of PTFE, the substance most widely known as the non-stick cooking surface Teflon®.

Target Swooping V, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2004[edit]

'This project created a visual and physical connection between the Rotterdam Cruise Terminal and the Port of Rotterdam, the largest marine port in the world. Sound elements were created when strong winds blew against the netted sculpture. The sculpture’s form also evolved, as weight from snow and sleet changed its shape throughout the its installation period.

Roadside Shrine II, New York City, NY, 2002[edit]

Located on New York City's West Side Highway, this Roadside Shrine II was affixed to piers 90 and 88 of the New York Cruise Terminal in New York City. It was constructed with vinyl-coated polyethylene mesh of varying dimensions. The sculpture was funded by The Florence Lynch Gallery.

"Target Swooping II, Burgos, Spain, 2001"[edit]

This project required Echelman to work with a national historic monument, the 15th-century carved stone courtyard of Casa de Cordon, where Christopher Columbus was welcomed home from his New World Voyage by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Now used as the headquarters of a bank, the sculpture focuses on energizing the atrium airspace while respecting the delicate environment.

Target Swooping Down...Bullseye!, Madrid, Spain, 2001[edit]

This project attached a shaped sculptural membrane to the roof of the courtyard of the Spanish National Trade Fair Complex in Madrid as part of the ARCO Exhibition. The title refers to the round courtyards, references bullfighting rings, and to the title given the center ring of a target: bullseye.

The sculpture installation is visible in daylight from the ground level, all floors of the office building, and also from airplanes. At night, lighting accentuates different aspects of the form.

"Roadside Shrine I: Cone Ridge, Houston, TX, 2000"[edit]

This sculpture, commissioned by the Buffalo Bayou Art Park, represents the first time the Texas Department of Transportation allowed an art project of any kind to touch its facilities. The sculpture itself was temporary and clamped to the underside of an interstate highway overpass.

"Roadside Shrine II: Cone Ridge, New York City, NY, 2000"[edit]

This project was installed beneath the roadside cement overpasses of New York City’s Westside Highway at Piers 88 and 90 as part of the Armory Show in February, 2001. Lighting transforms the sculpture at night and visitors pass between the swaying illuminated forms as they proceed towards their next destination.

"Inside-Outside", Cambridge, MA, 1998[edit]

Inside-Outside was a sculpture for Harvard University’s AIDS Awareness week at the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge.

Inside outside suggests a trap or a tornado, a physical representation of vulnerability and permeability, fear and risk. A tall, hollow, layered form created from steel and nylon nets spirals downward from a 44-foot high ceiling to meet the viewer at eye level. Viewers are invited to stick their heads inside the piece.

"Trying to Hide with Your Tail in the Air", Vilnius, Lithuania, 1998[edit]

This sculpture utilizes regional patterns of Lithuanian lace in a 3-dimensional sculpture that is permanently suspended between trees at an outdoor sculpture museum. According to the museum director, during its first five years, the sculpture has required no maintenance and remains true to its original color and structural integrity.

"Bellbottoms Series", Mahaballipuram, India, 1997[edit]

This series of temporary structures were part of Echelman’s early work with nets during her time in India as a Fulbright Scholar. As a former painter, Echelman’s plan was to give painting exhibitions around the country, but shipped her paints to the fishing village of Mahabalipuram and they never arrived. Inspired by the local materials and culture, she began working with bronze casters in the village.

She soon found the material too heavy and expensive for her Fulbright budget. 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.


Upcoming Projects[edit]

TED 2014 Conference Sculpture, Vancouver, BC, 2014[edit]

Studio Echelman is currently working on a sculpture commission for the 2014 TED Conference.

TED Curator Chris Anderson shared the news that Janet Echelman will create a monumental aerial sculpture to celebrate TED’s 30th anniversary in 2015 in Vancouver.

Anderson’s goal is to “create a new type of theater space” by inviting back “some of TED’s greatest design talents.” Echelman aims to achieve this by mediating architectural scale and human scale with a lightweight sculpture made entirely of soft materials.

Echelman will suspend the sculpture between a 30-story skyscraper and the Vancouver Convention Center where the conference will be held – challenging the artist to work on her most ambitious scale yet.

Echelman’s studio is collaborating with design software company Autodesk, who have developed custom engineering software to make this effort possible, and are sponsoring the sculpture. The project is intended to be a temporary installation designed to travel among cities after its premiere at TED, calling to mind the TED concept of “an idea worth spreading.”

“Janet’s vision for the sculpture is absolutely spectacular. We can’t think of a better celebration of TED’s 30th anniversary and so appreciate Autodesk making it possible,” commented Anderson.

For the 30th Anniversary conference, themed “The Next Chapter,” TED will invite back 100 of the best TED speakers of all time, and Echelman will share her story. The artist has made bold innovations in public art with her living, breathing sculpture environments, transforming urban space throughout the globe.

“I believe that public space should be intentional: it should be obvious that you belong,” said Echelman, whose sculptural forms invite us to linger beneath them.

Pulse, Philadelphia, PA, 2015[edit]

With the goal of transforming historic Dilworth Plaza (Philadelphia City Hall) into a focal point for the city’s thriving downtown, the Center City District commissioned an artwork inspired by the site’s historic associations with transportation. The site served as the city’s Centre Square Water Works in the 1800s, and in the next century was expanded with land from the Pennsylvania Railroad, which used steam-powered trains.

The art will be embedded in the new plaza’s 11,600-square foot fountain and will trace above ground in real time the paths of the three subway lines below. Described by the artist as “a living X-ray of the city’s circulatory system,” the work creates moving 4-foot-tall curtains of mist, which glow at night when illuminated by multiple layers of colored light. The artwork aims to physically and psychologically transform the way people view they city’s central square and enter its public transit system. The integration of the art was made possible through collaboration with the site’s outstanding design team.

Echelman wanted to focus on the city’s industrial history, which she felt was not as widely known as its Federalist history, yet worthy of attention. Her larger goal was to generate a sense of place and create a communal urban experience. The ground-breaking ceremony occurred on January 30, 2012 and is set for completion in 2015.

Matthew Knight Arena Project, Eugene, OR, 2014[edit]

The sculpture installation explores the nature of team spirit and reveals the essential role the spectator plays in sport. The sculpture is designed to respond and engage with its surroundings. What appears to be a voluminous ethereal presence from a distance becomes five distinct forms as the viewer gets closer, a nod to the teamwork between players on the court. Once underneath, the viewer will notice the subtle shimmer of blues and greens as well as the bilateral shift from light to dark, which highlights the curvature of the architecture.

Sensors inside the main arena, separate from the artwork, are attuned to pick up the sound of spectators, triggering specially programmed lighting and air currents that excite the sculpture. The sculpture becomes a reflection of the spectator’s reaction to what they are witnessing, be it a basketball game, music concert, or circus.

The lighting will cycle between specially chosen color patterns that highlight the threads of the custom blended twine. It will also periodically shift to the more dramatic effect of shining theatrical lights directly through the sculpture to create intricate shadow drawings on the adjacent walls. These shadows will layer on top of a silhouette wall painting that follows the parabolic curves of the hanging sculpture.

Through the integration of form, movement, light, and color, Echelman’s sculpture will be a new symbol of the excitement that spectators bring to the Matthew Knight Arena.


Smithsonian magazine's American Ingenuity Award Visual Arts Winner
Boston Society of Architects Women in Design Award of Excellence
Architectural Digest Selected as a 2012 AD Innovator
Knight Foundation 2012 Philadelphia Arts Challenge winner
Loeb Fellowship Alumni Council Harvard University
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in Fine Arts
Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence Biennial Medal, for Phoenix Civic Space Park, featuring Her Secret is Patience
American Academy in Rome, Resident in the Visual Arts
Public Art Network Year in Review Award to Her Secret is Patience, Phoenix AZ.
Readers' Choice Award: Best Public Art, for Her Secret is Patience, Phoenix New Times.
Environmental Excellence Awards Art in Public Places Crescordia Award, for Her Secret is Patience, Valley Forward Association.
Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship, dual award: Sculpture/Installation & Craft
Award for Excellence in Structural Engineering AZ Structural Engineering Assoc.
Loeb Fellowship, grant for practicing professionals affecting the built and natural environment to pursue independent research and study Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
The Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellowship; 1st artist in Leadership Award Program.
International Achievement Award of Excellence, Architectural Structures, for She Changes to Janet Echelman Inc. Industrial Fabrics Association International.
New York Foundation for the Arts, Lily Auchincloss Fellow. Category: Architecture & Environmental Structures
Public Art Network Elected to PAN Council, a 16-member national board.
Public Art Network Year in Review Award to She Changes, Portugal.
9-11 Memorial Design Competition, Hoboken, NJ. Winning Team.
Japan Foundation Major Visual Artist Grant to make sculpture in Kyoto, Japan.
Bogliasco Foundation Residency in Genoa, Italy.
American Institute of Indian Studies Senior Creative Artist Grant.
Kohler Arts/Industry Fellowship Metal residency at Kohler Factory in Wisconsin.
Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York, NY. $18,000 award for visual art.
Massachusetts Cultural Council Individual Artist Grant, highest level.
Art/Omi International Artists Residency ,Omi, New York.
America Center, Lithuania Grant for permanent sculpture at Museum of Central Europe.
Museum of the Centre of Europe Grant for residency and permanent sculpture.
Fundacion Valparaiso Grant for artist’s residency in Spain.
Fulbright Senior Lectureship in Visual Art, Extension Grant.
G.V. Memorial Trust Grant for building permanent sculpture in South India.
Fulbright Senior Lectureship in Visual Art Researched and lectured in India.
1995, 96
Harvard University Art Museums Grant for installations: Fogg & Sackler Museums.
Office for the Arts of Harvard-Radcliffe College Multiple grants for Art.
MFA Program Scholarship Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.
Rotary International Foundation One-year Graduate Art Scholarship, Hong Kong.
Harvard Film Archive Permanent Collection’s Finishing Grant for 16 mm film.

Artist's Story[edit]

American artist Janet Echelman reshapes urban airspace with monumental, fluidly moving sculpture that responds to environmental forces including wind, water, and sunlight.

Echelman first set out to be an artist after graduating college. She moved to Hong Kong in 1987 to study Chinese calligraphy and brush-painting. Later she moved to Bali, Indonesia, where she collaborated with artisans to combine traditional textile methods with contemporary painting.

When she lost her bamboo house in Bali to a fire, Echelman returned to the United States and began teaching at Harvard. After seven years as an Artist-in-Residence, she returned to Asia, embarking on a Fulbright lectureship in India.

With the promise to give painting exhibitions around the country, she shipped her paints to Mahabalipuram, a fishing village famous for sculpture. When her paints never arrived, Echelman, inspired by the local materials and culture, began working with bronze casters in the village.

She soon found the material too heavy and expensive for her Fulbright budget. 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.

By the end of her Fulbright year, Echelman had created a series of netted sculpture in collaboration with the fishermen. Hoisting them onto poles, she discovered that their delicate surfaces revealed every ripple of wind.

Today Echelman has constructed net sculpture environments in metropolitan cities around the world. She sees public art as a team sport and collaborates with a range of professionals including aeronautical and mechanical engineers, architects, lighting designers, landscape architects, and fabricators.

She built her studio beside her hundred-year-old house, where she lives with her husband David Feldman and their two children.[5]


  1. ^ "Department of Art Lecture Series- Janet Echelman: "Reshaping Public Space" - University of Oregon". Calendar.uoregon.edu. 2014-10-21. Retrieved 2016-06-23. 
  2. ^ Janet Echelman | Profile on TED
  3. ^ "Every Beating Second Sculpture on Janet Echelman's website". Janet Echelman, Inc. 
  4. ^ "Janet Echelman's CV" (PDF). Janet Echelman, Inc. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  5. ^ http://www.echelman.com/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]