Janet Echelman’s 1.8 Renwick


Renwick Gallery (Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW)

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 Ron Blunt

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

Janet Echelmans colorful fiber and lighting installation examines the complex interconnections between human beings and our physical world, and reveals the artist’s fascination with the measurement of time. The volumetric form suspended from the ceiling of the Renwick Gallery’s Rubenstein Grand Salon is inspired by the data recorded March 11, 2011, following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that rippled across the Pacific Ocean toward Japan. The geologic event was so powerful it shifted the earth on its axis and shortened the day by 1.8 millionths of a second, lending this work its title. Echelman’s knotted meditation contrasts the forces we can understand and control with those we cannot, and the concerns of our daily existence with larger cycles of time. Dynamically-changing lighting casts projected shadow drawings in vivid colors that move from wall to wall, enticing viewers to lie down on the carpet and contemplate the work.


  • How does time affect your life? In this interview Janet Echelman explains how 1.8 Renwick represents cause and effect and the cycles of time.

    JANET ECHELMAN: I’m Janet Echelman. I’m an artist here installing a new sculpture titled “1.8.” That number is the number of microseconds the earth’s day was shortened as a result of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan and the Fukushima nuclear reactor. I’m using knotted netting that fishermen have done for thousands of years.

    The work itself is a physical interrelationship through these knotted netted forms, layers upon layers. When one part moves, even one single element, every other element is affected. Together with colored light that changes and moving air currents, the work is in constant motion. It is an exploration of our interdependencies with these larger systems and cycles of time.

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    Museum purchase made possible by the American Art Forum.