Janet Echelman for Smithsonian Magazine

November 1, 2014 11:02 am

A few months ago I went on assignment for Smithsonian magazine to photograph Janet Echelman for the Ingenuity Awards. The Inginuity Awards issue alone is reason enough to become a subscriber. I’ve always loved this issue because the people featured are almost always surrounded by something that tells an interesting visual narrative all on its own – Janet Echelman was no exception. Her woven sculptures are made out miles and miles of a special rope that is stronger than steel and they often occupy high traffic areas like traffic circles and transit hubs.

Below are some pictures I took of Janet in her studio and this first image is a shot of one of her pieces in it’s finished form. To view more of her beautiful work and read the article that appeared in Smithsonian click here.

Many thanks to Photo Editor Brendan McCabe and the Smithsonian photography department.

Echelman's Sculpture Project at the Amsterdam Light Festival in 2012 (photo courtesy of Echelman studio)

Samples of twine cover the walls of Echelman’s studio. For her sculptures, she uses a modern polyethylene fiber that’s stronger than steel.

Echelman creates rope sculptures the size of buildings. She begins her process by painting potential designs on paper.

At a studio in the Brookline suburb of Boston, Echelman and her team create models, which hang around the room like colorful spiderwebs.

Echelman describes her work as “mediating places” between people and cities. She favors busy locations for her projects, such as traffic circles and transit hubs.

Echelman and her team use computers to virtually drape designs over 3-D images of city neighborhoods. She enlists the help of engineers to get her projects off the ground.

“I don’t take on a project unless it requires me to push the boundaries of my art,” says Echelman, 48. Her projects all tend to incorporate new elements.

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