Janet Echelman Inspires, Moves And Makes People Think Through Art
Durkan recently hosted a fantastic Design Summit at Barnsley Gardens, Georgia, where A&D customers – as well as end users and media – were treated to trend presentations, hospitality product development previews, and a special keynote talk by Janet Echelman.
Echelman is an artist who works on a grand scale with fishnet, light and air. But to merely call her a fiber artist doesn’t do justice to the innovation and the emotional resonance that her work incorporates. She blurs the boundaries between craft and technology, and nature and physics. She explained her process, and shared wonderful stories about starting out, unsure of what direction her artistic calling would take. Once she completed her first fishnet project in 1997 while in India on a Fulbright scholarship, she knew she was onto something viable.
Since then, Echelman has evolved the scope and scale of the fishnet sculptures, working with cities around the world to develop a sense of space and place under her magical creations. While they remain high in the air and out of human reach, they are very much interactive, moving in the wind and changing colors based on both natural and artificial lightscapes that engage the form. Echelman told the Design Summit audience that her greatest accomplishment is the feeling she gets when people tell her about their personal interactions and emotions while engaging with her art installations. This is what art always hopes to do: inspire, move, and make people think, and Echelman is a master at this with her engaging and thoughtful work.
Echelman has moved into creating more experiential projects, like the one for Philadelphia’s City Hall, due to be completed later this year. For this project, the historic plaza in front of City Hall is undergoing a transformation under Echelman’s direction, where the art will be embedded into the plaza through a trail of fountains. Water and light will move through the space, mimicking Philadelphia’s subway line paths. What was once a dull and out-of-date, unused space in an urban setting will now literally become a pulse for the city.