The Renwick Gallery and the Space in Between

Amy Fox
Social Media and Digital Content Specialist
March 23, 2017
A photograph of colorful mesh hung from the ceiling inside the Grand Salon at the Renwick Gallery.

Janet Echelman, 1.8 Renwick2015, knotted and braided fiber with programmable lighting and wind movement above printed textile flooring, Smithsonian American Art Museum, photo by Tony Powell

What drew me to want to be an artist was, I have always been interested in how the space I'm in changes the way I feel and therefore who I am at any given moment.
Janet Echelman

Walk through the doors of the Renwick Gallery and the first thing most people notice is Odile Decq's curving red carpet, flowing up the stairs to an arched doorway. Next, at the top of the stairs, framed by the arch, a soft light shifts from magenta to marigold to dusky blue. For more than a year, Janet Echelman's woven sculpture 1.8 Renwick has beckoned people into the Grand Salon. Suspended high above, the billowing nets transform the space. At once an artwork and an experience, people walk around the room as colors projected on the hand-knotted nets shift, or stretch out on the floor for a new view and a moment of peace.

This space feels different, and it shows in the groups of people gathered on the floor or drifting through the room. Babies toddling through the pink light. Groups of teenagers relaxing. Couples posing for the perfect hazy shot. Here and there, visitors absorbing the atmosphere, undisturbed. Stealing a visit over a lunch hour, a special trip to meet a friend, accidental discovery, first dates, and reunions.

In the video below, Echelman talks about what makes her installation at the Renwick Gallery different from her other works, how she finds inspiration in the interstitial spaces of the world, and how sometimes the criticisms you need to protect your ideas from are your own.

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