ICONIC: Janet Echelman

Janet Echelman's "Her Secret is Patience" in Phoenix, AZ (2008). Photo by Christina O. Haver.

Janet Echelman’s “Her Secret is Patience” in Phoenix, AZ (2008). Photo by Christina O. Haver.

I had a chance to meet Janet Echelman this past weekend. Based in Brookline, Massachusetts, Echelman is an internationally renowned public artist known for her building-scale-sized outdoor net sculptures—ephemeral, delicate, floating works of colorful fishnet that dance and shiver with prevailing winds. Her works offer both a sense of physical shelter and a new visual focus in the sky in urban landscape settings.

One of the first things I noticed about Janet is how seriously she takes listening. She’s unaffected and good-natured, asks good questions, and finds ways to connect with people. When it comes to community engagement, these are the best sorts of qualities to find in a public artist who understands the iterative process of using art to solve problems—what she describes as a “team sport.”

Here’s Janet giving a TED talk in 2011 entitled “Taking Imagination Seriously.”