Janet Echelman is an artist who defies categorization. Her work intersects across the boundaries of Sculpture, Architecture, Urban Design and Planning, Material Science, Structural and Aeronautical Engineering, and Computer Science. She creates experiential sculpture at the scale of buildings that transform with wind and light. The art shifts from being an object to look at, to a living environment you can get lost in.
Her TED talk “Taking Imagination Seriously” has been translated into 35 languages with more than one million views. Oprah ranked Echelman’s work #1 on her List of 50 Things That Make You Say Wow!, and she recently received the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in Visual Arts, honoring “the greatest innovators in America today.” Recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Harvard Loeb Fellowship, Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellowship, and Fulbright Lectureship, Echelman was named an Architectural Digest Innovator for “changing the very essence of urban spaces.”
Echelman’s educational path has been nonlinear. After graduating from Harvard College, she lived in a Balinese village for 5 years, then completed separate graduate programs in Painting and in Psychology. Last year she received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Tufts University.
Using unlikely materials from fishnet to atomized water particles, Echelman combines ancient craft with computational design software to create artworks that have become focal points for urban life on five continents. Major permanent commissions include: Dream Catcher on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California; Impatient Optimist, signature sculpture of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation campus in downtown Seattle that gives visual form to their mission; Her Secret Is Patience in downtown Phoenix Civic Space; Every Beating Secondat San Francisco International Airport T2, Water Sky Garden at Richmond Olympic Oval, the largest legacy artwork from the Vancouver Winter Olympics, and She Changes, the iconic work for the waterfront of Porto, Portugal.