Janet ECHELMAN Sculpture Premieres at San Francisco International

Janet ECHELMAN Sculpture Premieres at San Francisco International
Today, artist Janet Echelman's Every Beating Second premieres with the opening of the new Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), home to one of the most valuable and important public art collections at an airport in the United States.

With the renovation of the Airport's Terminal 2 (T2), formerly the Central Terminal, the San Francisco Arts Commission's Public Art Program received approximately $3.7 million in art enrichment funds for new commissioned work and reinstallation of existing works. Echelman was selected to create a zone of re-composure with her sculpture to provide travelers with a contemplative environment after the security checkpoint. The installation is a model for how airports can integrate works of art to help mitigate the anxiety and discomfort associated with heightened airport security. The sculpture also demonstrates how airports are repackaging themselves as not merely a means to travel, but as cultural gateways.

Echelman transforms the Recompose Area with a fictional nature that subtly engages viewers with real and imagined natural forces. Her first permanent interior commission, the sculpture pierces the architecture creating three round skylights through which delicate layers of translucent colored netting ascend to the visible sky. The artist embeds within the terrazzo floor a series of shapes that outline the precise shadows that would occur on the summer solstice if the sun were to penetrate through the roof. Computer-programmed mechanized airflow animates the fluidly-moving sculpture, as if the wind could magically flow through solid walls. The artist's program of colored lighting makes the sculpture glow from indigo to purple, magenta to red-orange.

The artist achieved the sculpture's physical presence by braiding UV-resistant fibers into twine that is knotted into sculptural forms suspended from powder-coated steel armatures. Despite their large scale, up to 120 feet in circumference for a single form, her sculpture is experienced as ephemeral and weightless.
Visually, the sculpture evokes the contours and colors of micro-climates of the San Francisco Bay area. Aesthetically, the sculpture looks both backwards and forwards, drawing its color from the heyday of psychedelic music, the Summer of Love, and San Francisco's prominence in the beat poetry movement, while also referencing the contemporary bay area as a hub of innovation and interconnectivity for the world of technology. The title, Every Beating Second, refers to a line by the late San Francisco beat poet Allen Ginsberg and represents the artist's interest in heightening awareness of the present moment.

Janet Echelman, newly announced recipient of the 2011-2012 Guggenheim Fellowship, reshapes urban airspace with monumental, fluidly moving sculpture that responds to environmental forces including wind, water, and sunlight. She premiered major sculpture commissions for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games and the 2010 Biennial of the Americas. In 2009, she completed the largest public art commission in the U.S. of that year, a new civic icon for Phoenix that has been hailed for contributing to the revitalization of its downtown. Echelman's 160-foot-tall waterfront sculpture in Portugal was called "one of the truly significant public artworks in recent years" by Sculpture Magazine. She recently presented a mainstage talk at TED2011, which will be available for viewing on their website soon.

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Photo: courtesy San Francisco Arts Commission by Bruce Damonte.