Janet's Open Road

  • INTERVIEWED BY:

    Women In STEM

  • INTERVIEW LOCATION:

    Boston, MA

JANET ECHELMAN

Artist

“The thing I had to teach myself was how to hear my own voice. I didn't even know it! You have to hear your voice before you can follow it.”

INTERESTS:

Art Design

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Hard Work Perseverance Self-Reflection Exploration Passion Risk Education Inspiration Choices Community

FOUNDATION:

Being Creative

TAGS:

art, Bali, censoring, challenge, community, compromise, computer science, curiosity, decisions, dream, experimentation, failure, fear, listen, painting, rejection, risk, school, science, sculpture

BIOGRAPHY:

  • When asked to describe her job in one sentence, she says: “I go to cities and create spaces where people can come together.”
  • Her sculptural artworks are massive, soft, multi-layered forms made up of different kinds of fibers, often displayed in public spaces like parks or town squares.
  • When she told her mother that she wanted to be an artist, her mom said, “That’s a great aspiration; now go make 100 paintings.”
  • She said the message behind it was, “this is a great thing to aspire to, and I support you, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work and persistence.”
  • She was rejected from all seven art schools she applied to, but she says that devising her own education in the arts ended up being much more authentic and fulfilling.
  • She originally started out as a painter, but after college she took a trip to Bali, and when she tried to ship all of her paint supplies there, they got lost in the mail.
  • As a result, she started looking around for new materials to use to create art, and she started making sculptures from the local fishermen’s nets.
  • She gets a lot of her inspiration from nature, but she executes her vision at scale with help from computer science and engineering technologies.

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