Her Secret is Patience, the 145-ft-tall aerial sculpture in Phoenix, Arizona, is a new civic icon hailed for contributing to the revitalization of downtown. Suspended above the new 2-city block Civic Space Park, the sculpture is monumental yet soft, fixed in place but constantly in motion, it dances gently in the air, choreographed by the flux of desert winds.

The large 3-dimensional multi-layered form is created by a combination of hand-baiting and machine-loomed knotting, and is the result of a collaborative effort with an international team of award-winning aeronautical and mechanical engineers, architects, lighting designers, landscape architects, and fabricators. This work redefines the ‘art space,’ by bringing viewers eyes upwards to the sky, focused on a new celestial object.

During the day, the sculpture hovers high above heads, treetops, and buildings. The sculpture creates what the artist calls “shadow drawings,” which she says are inspired by Phoenix’s cloud shadows that captivated her from the first site visit.

At night, the illumination changes color gradually through the seasons. The goal in selecting the colors is to provide residents some small climate relief through color, adding cool hues in summer, and warm tones in winter. The lighting design also changes what portion of the sculpture is illuminated, leaving parts obscured in mystery, much like the phases of the moon.

The artist was inspired by the region’s distinctive monsoon cloud formations and the shadows they cast, in addition to forms found in desert flora and the local fossil record. The title quotes American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote, ‘Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.’


Painted galvanized steel and cables; changing sets of recyclable high-tenacity polyester braided twine netting; colored lighting with computerized programming
Dimensions of Net: 100 ft. length x 100 ft. width x 62 ft. depth
Installation Dimensions: 353 ft. length x 289 ft. width 145 ft. height


Client: City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture
Art: Janet Echelman
Studio Echelman Team: Philip Speranza (Design Support), Melanie Rose Peterson (Conceptual Design/Development), Rachel Kaede Newsam (Design Support)
Fabrication & Project Engineering: CAID Industries (Tucson, AZ)
Net Engineering: Buro Happold (New York)
Aeronautical Engineering: Peter Heppel Associates (Paris)
Consultant: Speranza Architecture (New York)
Steel Structure and Concrete Foundation Engineering: M3 Engineering (Tucson, AZ)
Lighting: VOX Arts (Baltimore, MD)
Structural Install: Nexus Steel (Tempe, AZ)
Sculptural Foundations: Foresite Design (Berkley, MI)
Photos: Christina O'Haver, David Feldman, Will Novak, Peter Vanderwarker, Tom Byrne, Katie Porter, Brandon Shigeta


2010 - Year in Review Award, Public Art Network
2009 - Reader's Choice Award for "Best Public Art," Phoenix New Times
2009 - Crescordia Environmental Excellence Award for "Art in Public Places," Valley Forward Association
2008 - Award for Excellence in Structural Engineering, Structural Engineers Association of Arizona (SEAOA)


Civic Space Park, Phoenix, AZ, USA