June 8, 2011

Ride the Wind: Art that Harnesses the Power of Moving Air

A painter who was rejected from seven art schools, Janet Echelman seems more like an elementary school principal than a artsy-weirdo who makes giant nets that float in the air.

Observers describe her sculptures as uplifting, relaxing, and dreamlike.  The jellyfish-like shapes soften hard city skylines, create warmth in cold urban spaces, and sway gently in the breeze against the black night sky.

Her first floating sculptures came after she accepted a job teaching art in India, and her painting supplies never arrived.  Instead she used fishing nets hung in the sky.  Now she enlists the help of high tech knitting machines, futuristics polymers and construction engineers to make art.

She is beginning a new phase in which she will attempt to create the same feeling of buoyancy with installations made of materials like mist and light.  Observers will be able to interact with the sculpture, much like the wind interacts with the nets.

If you have ever wondered what "innovative use of traditional methods" means... it means your Granny taught you how to knit, and Janet made these.

A ten-minute video of Janet Echelman giving a TED talk:

Janet Echelman's website:

Janet Echelman's YouTube Channel:

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