Fluidity of Creativity

After being rejected to all 7 art schools she applied to, Janet Echelman went off on her own. She’d have to create her own way to create and present her art.

Ten years of painting later, she received a Fulbright and headed off to India. As her deadline approached and her art materials never showed up, she was again on her own and had to come up with a new way to create. What she found were local fisherman’s nets. She combined this net material with the area’s celebrated sculptural past, resulting in a completely new way to approach sculpture.

And look at what she’s accomplished since:

ams_echelman_photojanusvandeneijnden_13_edit.jpg“1.26” Amsterdam, Netherlands. Image from http://www.echelman.com/project/1-26-amsterdam/

vancouverpod.jpg“Skies Painted With Unnumbered Sparks” Vancouver, Canada. Opening for Ted Talks 2014. Image from: http://www.yahoo.com/style/bp/glowing-sweater-vancouver-flickr-photo-day-183007985.html

I’m specifically enamored with “Skies Painted With Unnumbered Sparks” as it is the crowds, using their smart phones that control the colors streaming through the sculpture. This real-time crowdsourcing design work make the colors and patterns constantly in flux, which in a way, makes a different sculpture with every passing moment.

In her 2011 Ted Talk, she concludes saying:

“14 years ago, I searched for beauty in the traditional forms, in craft forms. Now, I combine them with hi-tech materials and engineering to create voluptuous, billowing forms the scale of buildings. My artistic horizons continue to grow.”

It seems that her ever-growing horizon has surely held true. It also leaves me to wonder if her unique ever-changing creative path is thanks to her early days of having to go off on her own and find her own way to create in both method and material. It also makes me think that being rejected by traditional creative foundations, institutions, publications, what-have-you, provides one with the gift of being forced to strike out and innovate one’s own methods, until something finally clicks.

The ultimate message: keep at it.

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