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Janet Echelman at MIT Architecture

  • MIT Department of Architecture 77 Massachusetts Avenue Boston, MA, 02115 United States (map)

Hosted by the Building Technology Group

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. 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 four continents.

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." Her TED talk "Taking Imagination Seriously" has been translated into 34 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.”

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. This year she received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Tufts University.

Recent permanent commissions works include: 1.8 Renwick at the Smithsonian American Art Museum; Impatient Optimist, a new ionic piece for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation campus in Seattle giving visual from to their mission; Water Sky Garden, a legacy project of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics; Her Secret is Patience for downtown Phoenix; and Every Beating Second for San Francisco International Airport. Many Bostonians saw last year’s 600-ft installation over the Rose Kennedy Greenway which reconnected downtown Boston with its waterfront.

Photo: Vancouver, Ema Peter

Later Event: November 17
Sarah Sze at the Rose Art Museum