Artist Janet Echelman’s first visit to Phoenix, Ariz., left her “mesmerized by the broad, open sky… the shock of desert winds, whirls of dust, the crash of lightning, and that luminous blue turning to violet and orange, then velvety blue-black.” Recreating her vision took time, teamwork and meticulous planning. The resulting 145-foot aerial sculpture, “Her Secret is Patience,” dances gently over Phoenix’s new Civic Space Park, choreographed by desert winds and changing light and bringing people together to look up at the sky. It has become a blooming symbol of a revitalized downtown area and an award-winning representation of the best in public art.
Echelman created 3D forms on Maya software, imported into custom software by engineers at Buro Happold to develop patterns for fabrication of the recyclable high-tenacity polyester braided twine netting. Wind and structural analysis determined how strong the twine loomed into each net panel had to be, and generated construction documents, exact looming patterns and colors for each individual bobbin.
Painted galvanized steel and cables hold the sculpture above the park, hanging from 38 feet to100 feet in the air. A computerized lighting system colors, illuminates and conceals parts of the vortex shape at night, while the wind-shifted netting forms unique shadow patterns during the daylight hours.
Echelman’s distinguished artistic career, international reputation and academic credentials allow her to re-shape urban airspace around the globe, with installations such as “Water Sky Garden”; at the Vancouver Winter Olympics and “She Changes” in Portugal.