“The Biennial of the Americas in Denver asked, Could I represent the 35 nations of the Western Hemisphere and their interconnectedness in a sculpture? I didn’t know where to begin. But I said yes.”
I love how the words above, spoken by Janet Echelman at her March 2011 TED Talk, exemplify the leap of faith a creative person takes in embarking on a new project.
TED, that buzzy confluence of creative brains in technology, entertainment, and design, began as an annual conference of “ideas worth spreading.” Over the years, speakers ranging from Steven Hawking to Al Gore to MA’s very own Benjamin Zander (his impassioned argument for music and creativity is one for the ages) have shared their creative energies and ideas.
The original conference spawned a number of other conferences, and Janet Echelman, a 2009 MCC Artist Fellow in both Crafts and Sculpture/Installation, is one of the recent additions to the growing online library of TED talks. Her talk includes an anecdote of how desperate circumstances led to a breakthrough in her large-scale, fiber-based moving sculptures, and how her work combines timeless traditions with cutting-edge science. Watch it in the embedded video, above.
Another artist who works at the nexus of science, art, and craft, is Nathalie Miebach (Sculpture/Installation Fellow ’09), who recently participated in the TEDGlobal Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, as a TEDGlobal Fellow. And there must be something “global” in the Massachusetts water: another local artist, Jae Rhim Lee, joined her among the 2011 Fellows.
Since 2009, local innovators have converged at TEDxBoston, which applies the same TED dynamic to the Boston community. The 2011 event featured Caleb Neelon (Sculpture/Installation Fellow ’07). In Caleb’s talk, he shares how his background in street art led to public painting (some commissioned, some not) in Berlin, Sao Paulo, Katmandu, Tegucigalpa, Shenzhen, and Seville. But always, after the project was done, it was back to the Boston area, because, as he puts it, “it’s home.”
Creating public art in cities throughout the world led him to think about visual messages cities send, and the way his own city could send more signals of its receptiveness to creative ideas and individuals. “Big, adventurous public art is a way to signal that receptiveness, visually,” he says.