Artist Janet Echelman P’23 Presents at Assembly
CSW was delighted to welcome world-renowned artist and current CSW parent Janet Echelman to campus on Wednesday, January 22, for an assembly presentation on her work and process. In her talk, Janet traced her journey as an artist, describing the moments and experiences that have led her to create the incredible fiber installations she has become known for. After graduating from Harvard, despite what she describes as average grades and mediocre feedback from her professors, Janet knew that she wanted to be an artist. But when she applied to graduate school, she was rejected by all seven of the programs she had hoped to participate in. Undefeated, Janet spent the next 10 years painting and experimenting with her craft.
In 1997, Janet earned a Fulbright Senior Lectureship to India, where she intended to offer an exhibition of paintings. When her painting supplies were lost in transit, she transitioned to a new medium, working with local bronze casters on small sculptural pieces. But the space she was meant to exhibit in was large, and she knew there was no way she could fill it with the small bronze pieces she’d been creating. The material was too heavy and expensive for the scale she envisioned. With the exhibition opening only weeks away, Janet took a walk on the beach and was hit with inspiration from an unlikely source: the bundles of netting she regularly watched local fishermen untangle at the end of the day. In that netting, she saw potential, the ability to create “volumetric form without heavy solid materials.” And so began Janet’s stunning exploration into a new and innovative sculptural media.
Interestingly, Janet explained to the community that she never set out to create art around the wind and that it was only through process, exploration, and experimentation, that she was able to discover the potential and beauty of such forms.
Janet has since gone on to create magnificent public works of art around the world in cities like Beijing, Boston, London, New York, San Francisco, Santiago, and Vancouver. She is a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Harvard Loeb Fellowship, Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellowship, and Fulbright Sr. Lectureship. More information about Janet, along with images and videos of her work, is available at www.echelman.com.