A few years back, I was lucky enough to receive a $300 grant from the Wisconsin Art Education Association/Handweavers Guild for a fibers project. I chose to do a snow-fence weaving with some fabric. I was intrigued by Janet Echelman's work. She is an American artist who was rejected from seven different art schools but never gave up. She painted for ten years before winning a grant to go to India to make art. After arriving in India, her paints never showed up in the mail so she was forced to adapt to something new to make artwork for several shows that she had coming up. While there, she made a large installation out of the local fisherman's nets. She then began to create large and larger works of art. One thing that I lve about her is that she is the definition of STEAM. The amount of math, science, technology, engineering, collaboration, and art that goes into her work is phenomenal. They now are oftentimes placed in parts of cities that are less than desirable. Because of her sculptures' popularity, the crowds that come to see them oftentimes force out unwanted activities while bringing attention to areas of cities that need it. The sculptures are really interesting because they are made out of a light netting that catches the breeze. So when the wind blows, it's almost as if you can see the wind as it ripples through the netting. Janet describes her works as "sculptures of wind."
I can't tell you how excited I was to finally get to see Janet give a presentation at the NAEA19 convention and then get to meet her afterwards!
This year, I had my 2nd grade students work collaboratively on some large-scale weavings. I split each class into 4 groups and then they worked together to weave fabric strips into large squares of snow-fencing. I like weaving into snow-fencing because the holes are fairly large and it make sit easier for each student to succeed when weaving.
After each 2nd grade class had a chance to weave into the fencing, I wired the 4 weavings together to make one large weaving. I then strung it up to my ceiling. While tying it up, I was conscious of twisting, turning, and manipulating certain parts of the weaving so it took on an organic form similar to Janet's work.
I love watching students lie underneath it and stare up at it!
After meeting Janet, I was so impressed by not only her work, but also her personality and demeanor. She was wonderful to talk to and after explaining/showing her my students' project inspired by her, she asked me if she could send my students a video. Of course I said "yes!"
Harmony and Consolidated Elementary Art Teacher in Milton, WI. UW-Eau Claire graduate. WAEA President. Apple Teacher.