Artist unveils name of giant sculpture

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The controversial public art piece set to hang completed above the Phoenix Civic Space this March received an official name amid excited “oohs” and “aahs” at the Phoenix Art Museum Tuesday night. (Salvador Rodriguez/DD)

The controversial public art piece set to hang completed above the Phoenix Civic Space this March received an official name amid excited “oohs” and “aahs” at the Phoenix Art Museum Tuesday night.

Artist Janet Echelman said the piece would be called “Her Secret is Patience,” a phrase borrowed from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Visiting the Valley to reveal the long-awaited title, Echelman spoke intimately to a few hundred art enthusiasts at the Museum during an open lecture entitled “Transforming Spaces into Destinations.”

Referred to as the “Jellyfish” by some Downtown ASU students, the public work is a $2.4 million investment that aims to revitalize downtown Phoenix and give the city character, akin to such public monuments as the Chicago Bean or the Eiffel Tower of Paris.

The project, located on North Central Avenue between Polk and Fillmore streets, consists of a lightweight, free-flowing “netting” attached to two blue metallic beams suspended in the air. Workers are expected to finish the initial stages of installation in March to coincide with the opening of the new Civic Space park in Downtown Phoenix.

Accompanied by a slide show demonstrating her previous artwork and progress of the current project, Echelman described her desire to let “forces of nature animate and breath life into my work.”

Echelman explained how the netting will be flexible enough to move with the wind, but will also be strong enough to resist the harshest dust storms.

The public work, despite its unique style, has been the target of criticism by many, who cite the large price tag as an unnecessary waste of state money. Regardless, the project was approved by the Phoenix City Council in late 2007.

“People wanted an iconic image,” Echelman said.

Echelman is an internationally renowned sculptor, having erected similar monuments in Portugal, India and Indonesia. She was also selected to create the Hoboken September 11th Memorial to honor victims of the 2001 assault on the World Trade Center.

Contact the reporter at dustin.volz@asu.edu