Bellbottoms Series, Mahaballipuram, India, 1997
This series of temporary structures were part of Echelman’s early work with nets during her time in India as a Fulbright Scholar. As a former painter, Echelman’s plan was to give painting exhibitions around the country, but shipped her paints to the fishing village of Mahabalipuram and they never arrived. Inspired by the local materials and culture, she began working with bronze casters in the village.
She soon found the material too heavy and expensive for her Fulbright budget. While watching local fishermen bundling their nets one evening, Echelman began wondering if nets could be a new approach to sculpture: a way to create volumetric form without heavy, solid materials.
By the end of her Fulbright year, Echelman had created a series of netted sculptures in collaboration with the fishermen – the Bellbottoms Series. Hoisting them onto poles, she discovered that their delicate surfaces revealed every ripple of wind.
The exhibition It was jointly sponsored by the Fulbright Scholarship Board, the American Consulate of Mumbai/Bombay, the U.S. Educational Foundation in India, and the National Institute of Design of India.
Materials and Size (left to right)
Cast bronze, hand-knotted twine, sewn cotton net, steel wire
83 ft. length x 52 ft. width x 52 ft. height
Playpen/Suckle Bell Buckle
Cast Bronze, hand-knotted net, block-printed silk, galvanized steel
60 ft. length x 65 ft. width x 65 ft. height
More Than You Can Chew
Cast Bronze, sewn silk, cotton net, Bhandini-dyed silk and galvanized steel
50 ft. width x 105 ft. height x 105 ft. depth
Cast Bronze, sewn cotton net, Bhandini-dyed silk and galvanized steel
65 ft. length x 11 ft. height x 11 ft. width
Till It Wilted I Wore It
Cast bronze, sewn cotton net, block-printed silk, galvanized wire
95 ft. length x 52 ft. width x 52 ft. height
Art: Janet Echelman
Made possible by the Fulbright Scholarship Board, the American Consulate of Mumbai/Bombay, the U.S. Educational Foundation in India, and the National Institute of Design of India.
Pallava Shore Temple, Mahaballipuram, India