Janet Echelman, a world-famous artist, learned her sculpting technique from – Indian fishermen. During her stay in India, she experimented with different materials and found most of them heavy and impossible to use for anything on a larger scale. Her ideas needed something light and fluid, but not weak, to put them into existence. Letting her mind wander, watching the local fishermen occupy themselves with their netting, the solution became obvious. Weave. The Aha! moment was surely inspirational, but mastering the technique and materials was a different matter altogether. Not to say it was impossible, but just consider the technical side – cooperation was needed with architects, engineers and software developers to: firstly, identify suitable materials, secondly, to create specialized software to model their behavior in real-life, outdoor circumstances ranging from gravity and the sun, to heavy rain and winds and, thirdly, to create machines that would weave this new material.
Time of hard work had payed-off, and in 2005, Mrs. Echelman installed She Changes, in Porto, Portugal – a 50 meters tall and 150 meters in diameter, sculpture made out of 2 tons of woven architectural fiber. Her signature are light but weather-proof installations, to which the elements pose no threat, but are, in fact, revived by them. They interact with the sun, rain and the winds in a way that makes these, already organic-looking sculptures, not only seem alive, but also animate the entire surrounding. City squares, plazas and even road intersections are transformed by Mrs. Echelman’s sculptures into lively meeting grounds where people enjoy something that closely resembles an outdoors experience.