Janet Echelman has completed her most recent aerial net sculpture in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina. Made up of over 35 miles of technical twine woven into 242,800 knots, the sculptures adds a new ephemeral presence to the sky above the city’s new LeBauer Park. Entitled “Where We Met,” the sculpture’s form and composition were inspired by Greensboro’s history as a railroad and textile hub.
“When I was asked to give visual form to the history of Greensboro and the textile tradition of North Carolina, I began with research,” explains Echelman. “I discovered that Greensboro was nicknamed the “Gateway City” because six railroad lines intersected there, and I started tracing the railway lines and marking the historic textile mills that dotted the routes. These routes brought together people from diverse cultures and races, so I wove together lines of brilliant color that meet at the center, and titled it “Where We Met”.
The piece spans a 200 foot by 130 foot area between four 60-foot-tall masts, each capable of bearing up to 6 tons of force. Designed to withstand the effects of wind and sun, the fiber used to construct the net is fifteen times stronger than steel by weight, and has a 100 percent resistance to UV radiation.
Hoists built into the 30” diameter pylons allow the net to be raised and lowered, and a swiveling pulley at the top of each pylon allows the angle of the support cable to move as the sculpture sways in the wind.
“Where We Met” was commissioned through a $1 million grant to the Community Foundation’s Public Art Endowment, who selected Echelman to create a sculpture responding to Greensboro’s textile history. The project is part of a nearly $300 million masterplan centered around LeBauer park aimed at revitalizing downtown Greensboro and the surrounding community.