Janet Echelman (2012)
As If It Were Already Here, Janet Echelman’s monumental aerial sculpture for downtown Boston
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Janet Echelman sculpts at the scale of buildings and city blocks. Echelman’s work defies categorization, as it intersects Sculpture, Architecture, Urban Design, Material Science, Structural & Aeronautical Engineering, and Computer Science. Echelman’s art transforms with wind and light, and shifts from being “an object you look at, into an experience you can get lost in.”Full Biography
Women in Design Award of Excellence, 2012 winner
The form of "As If It Were Already Here" echoes the history of its location. The three voids recall the “Tri-Mountain” which was razed in the 18th-century to create land from the harbor. The colored banding is a nod to the six traffic lanes that once overwhelmed the neighborhood, before the Big Dig buried them and enabled the space to be reclaimed for urban pedestrian life.
The sculpture is made by hand-splicing rope and knotting twine into an interconnected mesh of more than a half-million nodes. When any one of its elements moves, every other element is affected. Monumental in scale and strength yet delicate as lace, it fluidly responds to ever-changing wind and weather. Its fibers are 15 times stronger than steel yet incredibly lightweight, making the sculpture able to lace directly into three skyscrapers as a soft counterpoint to hard-edged architecture. It is a physical manifestation of interconnectedness and strength through resiliency.
The work invites you to linger, whether seen amidst the skyline from afar, or lying down on the grassy knoll beneath. It embraces Boston as a city on foot, where past and present are interwoven, and takes our gaze skyward to feel the vibrant pulse of now. It invites you to pause, and contemplate a physical manifestation of interconnectedness—soft with hard, earth with sky, things we control with the forces beyond us.
Video Footage: Melissa Henry, Julian Tryba, Above Summit. Exhibition formatting: Andrew Brookes