You never know where exactly the creativity is hiding inside you.
The American artist Janet Echelman is just such an example. Nowadays she is famous with her beautiful, aerial, fluidly moving sculptures and installations that give new essence of urban spaces. But it took her about 10 years to find her artistic voice and everything started in 1997 with lost paints…
Born in 1965, after graduating college, she moved to Hong Kong in 1987 to study Chinese calligraphy and brush-painting. Followed a stay in Bali, then a return to the United States, and then again – back to Asia, embarking on a Fulbright lectureship in India. There was also an arrangement with Fulbright that she had to give exhibitions around the country, but not everything went according to the plan. When she shipped her paints to the fisher village Mahabalipuram, they never arrived. The deadline for the show approached, so she had to think up something quickly … And she found it – no painting but a sculpture. Though she has never studied sculpture, engineering or architecture, she decided to create a big, volumetric sculpture and yet gently floating in the air.
However what material to use for this purpose? Bronze casting was too heavy and expensive for making large forms. One day, walking on the beach, she saw fishermen bundling their nets into mounds on the sand and suddenly realized the potential of such a material. And that’s how her first sculpture was made. It’s a self-portrait titled “Wide Hips”, created with the help of the local fishermen. It was hoisted on poles and she was so mesmerized by the beauty and delicacy of the changing patterns that decided to give a try to another one.
Since then, 18 years later, from ‘simple’ sculptures, her works have grown to huge installations woven in big cities all over the world combining a high-end technology with art. Echelman collaborates with aeronautical, mechanical and software engineers, architects, lighting designers, landscape architects and fabricators. The fishnet, she used for her first work, merged to more complex materials like atomized water particles or Spectra fiber.
Her goal is not just to create an object to look at to but also to get lost in it and as she said in her TED talk ‘Taking Imagination Seriously’: “My artistic horizons continue to grow”.
Visit the official site to see all artist’s works with a detailed explanations about their construction, location on the map and video of the set up – http://www.echelman.com/