Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Floating in colour: Janet Echelman

I was immediately drawn in at first glance when I first discovered Janet Echelman's sculptural installations. Bold and powerful, yet light and ethereal at the same time. I almost didn't realized they were real and thought that the art was actual a beautiful piece of digital photography. I wanted to learn more about this artist and her bold vision. What I discovered intrigued me even more. 

Janet had gone to Hong Kong after college to study calligraphy and later moved to Thailand where she collaborated with local artists mixing traditional textile methods with modern art. After leaving Asia and working as an artist in residence at Harvard for seven years, she returned to India to work with a local community known for their amazing sculpture. Unfortunately the materials she had shipped to work with did not arrive and she began working with bronze casters in the village. She quickly found that this material was too heavy and too expensive for her budget. While watching local fishermen building their nets one evening, she began to wonder if these nets could be a new form of sculpture: a way to bring volume and form without heavy, solid materials.
 "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." 

Janet's sculpture '1.26' hung from the seventh floor of the Denver Art Museum. 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.

The way these sculptures illuminate under lights at night is simply spectacular.

The pieces below were part of an installation at the San Francisco airport called 'Every Beating Second'.

The installation below at the Museum of Modern Art in New York is entitled 'The Expanding Club'. The funnel-like space of the Museum's atrium suggested a cloud and
 "with recent news reports of North Korea's nuclear weapons testing, it became a nuclear mushroom cloud" rendered in the flag colors of each of the countries known to have detonated such weapons. In this work Echelman is "interpreting the most violent weapon that we humans have ever created, using one of the oldest and most humble techniques of tying things together."

Janet's pieces have been on display in major urban cities across the globe. Learn more about her work or where to see it at her website

{Photos: Janet Echelman}

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