Janet Echelman was commissioned to create the headlining sculpture for GLOW 2013, the triennial art event for site-specific works on Santa Monica Beach. Lasting only one night - from dusk to dawn - the beach is transformed into a “playground for thoughtful and participatory, temporary art.”

On the night of September 28, 2013, more than 150,000 people attended GLOW and participated in sculpting the earthwork beneath Echelman’s aerial sculpture, “The Space Between Us,” making it one of the largest public art events in the U.S. In an article published the morning after the event, The New York Times credited Echelman’s work for “giving crafts a coolly conceptual edge.”

Echelman’s ground-breaking work utilized experimental elements, including shaped earth and an audio component that synced to a pulsating lighting program. The artist and her team collaborated with City Public Works staff to create carved sand indentations for visitors to enter and gaze up at the aerial sculpture, becoming a part of the immersive experience.

Echelman views this commission as a point of growth and departure. “The beach is the charged zone between human society and uncontrolled nature,” she said. “I’m interested in sculpting earth and sky, and placing ourselves in between. It’s the collision of heaviness and lightness, between our gravity-bound bodies which walk on sand, and the part of us which seeks to float in air, or in water.”

“My goal was to invite people to have an ephemeral sensory experience without words - a moment of contemplation that can evoke preverbal memory and engage our Limbic brain.”

Produced by the Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Division and the Santa Monica Arts Foundation, the goal of the evening was to “break through the public’s preconceived notion of what art can be, encouraging both thoughtful contemplation and energetic participation,” said GLOW organizers.

View Project Sheet »


Twisted nylon, polyester, sand, sound, and colored lighting
Dimensions of net: 130 ft. length x 110 ft. width x 30 ft. depth
Installation Dimensions: 220 ft. length x 170 ft. width x 60 ft. height


Art: Janet Echelman
Studio Echelman team: Melissa Henry, Daniel Zeese, Ben Winters, Cameron Chateauneuf
Landscape Architecture: The OLIN Studio – Susan Weiler, Richard Roark, Ben Monette
Sound Composers: Daniel Rome, Zach Alterman
Sound Install: Auntie M – Ben Omlor, Martyn Claes
Lighting: Kinetic Lighting – James Schipper, Mark Flaisher
Engineering: ARUP – Clayton Binkley, Patrick McCafferty, Simon Rees
Install and structural support: Branam Enterprises – Eddie Diaz
Photography: Andrew K. Sachs, Rob Reid, Matthew Boyd, Alison Buck, Melissa Henry, Nicola Buck
Time-lapse Photography: Matthew Boyd, Alison Buck
Santa Monica Department of Public Works: Paul Davis and staff


Santa Monica Beach, CA, USA