Day 92: Taking imagination seriously.

Janet Echelman was rejected from the seven arts schools she applied to after college. She never studied sculpture, architecture or engineering, yet in this talk we see images of her works, fragile, beautiful sculpted pieces the size of buildings. She shares the inspirational story of how she came to this point. 

Echelman began to study traditional crafts and was due to display some of her paintings in an Indian village famous for sculpture. When she arrived and her work didn’t, Echelman was forced to improvise to create something. One morning she was watching the fishermen hoist their nets out of the water when she had an idea. Her first piece is a billowing fishnet, hoisted on a pole so it could be photographed, which Echelman describes as a self portrait with wide hips. 

Echelman was impressed with the fishnets and how their soft surfaces revealed every kink from wind and environment around. She embarked on a journey of working with artisans, engineers and the Indian fishermen. She developed a relationship with an industrial fishnet factory and figured out a way to make lace with their machines. Three years later they raised a 50,000 square foot net. Her sculptures are so light they can tie into existing buildings, connected to limitless sky. 

Echelman dreams of bringing her sculptures around the world. She used to search for beauty in traditional forms of craft. Now she is combining her love for the traditional with her new skills to promote a rediscovering of wonder.


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