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. 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.
She recently premiered major sculpture commissions for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games and the 2010 Biennial of the Americas, and in 2009 she completed the largest public art commission in the U.S. of that year, a new civic icon for downtown Phoenix. Echelman's 160-foot-tall waterfront sculpture in Portugal was called "one of the truly significant public artworks in recent years"Â by Sculpture Magazine. Echelman was named a 2012 Architectural Digest Innovator for "changing the very essence of urban spaces."Â
Her art has been presented in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Lithuania, India, Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Canada, Mexico, and the US. She graduated from Harvard College and completed graduate degrees in psychology and painting. She is self-taught in sculpture.
A recipient of awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Japan Foundation, Rotary International Foundation, Harvard Graduate School of Design Loeb Fellowship, Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Academy in Rome, and a Fulbright Senior Lectureship, she currently serves on the national boards of the U.S. Fulbright Association and the Aspen Institute Energy and Environment Awards.
TED2014, TED2013, TED2012, TED2011
Areas of Expertise
Art, Public Art, Collaboration , Urban Design and City Planning, Sculpting, Technology Innovation for Art
An idea worth spreading
Taking Imagination Seriously
I'm passionate about
Bringing art and ideas to cities
Talk to me about
New Technologies with potential for art-making in new ways
People don't know I'm good at
Gamelan playing (I lived in Bali for five years)