Where We Met

Artist: Janet Echelman
Location: Greensboro, North Carolia, USA
Year: 2016
Researcher: Jessica Fiala

Janet Echelman’s Where We Met is a permanent sculpture made of intricate netting that hovers above the Carolyn & Maurice LeBauer Park in Greensboro, North Carolina. The 2016 project embodies Echelman’s interest in interconnectedness with the natural world and within community. Soft interwoven fibers reveal the sky above and move with the flow of the breeze, giving form to invisible forces and serving as a reminder of human reliance on the natural world. The sculpture’s form maps the convergence of six railroad lines integral to Greensboro’s textile history that also functioned as lines of connection for the city’s diverse populations. Situated at a meeting point for these communities in the city’s downtown, Where We Met is both an iconic welcoming point and an ever-evolving reference. The sculpture will change colors through a multi-year color evolution and maintenance cycle, marking out eras of the city and the lives of its residents and creating a shared context that is both personal and communal.

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Janet Echelman’s Where We Met floats above the Carolyn & Maurice LeBauer Park in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina. Constructed of intricate netting, the sculpture is both a landmark and a meditation on interconnectivity. The work’s qualities and dynamics shift with the time of day, revealing the sky above on a clear afternoon and serving as a colorful beacon when illuminated at night. The work delicately reveals the motion of the breeze, giving form to the frequently invisible forces of the natural world.

Emphasizing a relationship with nature that hinges on both reliance and responsibility, Echelman explains: “In this time we are living, I think we need voices of nurturance, harmonious coexistence, and interconnectedness.” By providing a shifting, graceful contrast to the city’s hard edges on a monumental scale, the work invites audiences to “think outside of our preconceptions about what our cities and structures are and can be.” Concurrently, the sculpture’s tethered form foregrounds “connectedness to one another and to our natural and built environment."

Although aesthetically ethereal, Where We Met is grounded in place and history, echoing physical relationships that provide fodder for reflection and conversation. While conducting research into the history of Greensboro, Echelman traced the location of textile mills along six railroad lines that converged in the city. These transportation lines not only helped the city develop an identity as a regional hub, they also carried disparate populations, bringing the city’s diverse communities together. The sculpture provides an analogy for these relationships, described by Echelman as an “interwoven history, all knotted together," with these physical and social relationships reflected in the project’s title, Where We Met.

Where We Met builds on history, yet the project also points toward the future, creating a new meeting point for the city’s communities. As Greensboro continues to evolve, so, too, will the sculpture. As part of the project’s regular maintenance schedule, Where We Met will change color approximately every five years. In so doing, the project notably blends permanence and ephemerality in public art. Yet this quality also brings the massive work to a personal level—a means for the city’s residents to mark out their own phases of life as well as a method of remembering shared histories to come.

All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.

Progress Agency