Welcome to Current, the stunning, ephemeral, sky-high sculpture that will inspire wonder and imagination for Columbus residents and visitors alike. Stretching an impressive 229 feet across Gay Street, this masterpiece represents the largest private contribution to public art in the history of Columbus.
Created by world-renowned sculptor Janet Echelman, Current is a true marvel of engineering and artistry, comprising of 78 miles of twine intricately woven into over 500,000 knots. As it dances gracefully in the wind, this awe-inspiring work of art will become an emblem of the city, a symbol of its culture and innovation. Walking beneath this massive artwork, you’ll know you’ve arrived at the nexus of culture in Columbus.
Suspended in the air above Gay and High, Current will be a grand bookend for the burgeoning Gay Street District. Anchored to the east by the Columbus Museum of Art and Columbus College for Art and Design, the elevation of this work will allow it to be seen from the convention center, serving as a beacon and a beckon for the Columbus community.
This District is home to multiple museums and galleries, with more on the way. This world-class public artwork will anchor this emerging District, living in the heart as it continues to grow.
You can learn more about the restaurants, arts and experiences in the neighborhood here.
Experience Current, Columbus’ monumental new public artwork by world-renown sculptor Janet Echelman, the way it was meant to be seen – from the street. Join us on Friday, June 9 at 11 am for a community celebration featuring City and arts leaders plus a pop-up performance by the Harmony Project. Help us welcome Current to Columbus before heading over to the Columbus Arts Festival.
Janet Echelman has transformed urban environments through significant artworks on five continents that defy categorization, using unlikely materials from atomized water particles to engineered fiber fifteen times stronger than steel by weight. Echelman lived in a Balinese village for five years after graduating from Harvard College. She then completed separate graduate programs in painting and psychology. She has taught at MIT, Harvard and Princeton Universities and received an honorary Doctorate from Tufts University.
Echelman’s TED talk “Taking Imagination Seriously” has been translated into 35 languages with more than two million views. Echelman is a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Harvard Loeb Fellowship, Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellowship and Fulbright Sr. Lectureship. She also received the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in Visual Arts, honoring “the greatest innovators in America today.” In popular culture, Oprah ranked Echelman’s work #1 on her List of 50 Things That Make You Say Wow!
The design and installation of Current was funded by Jeff Edwards who serves as chairman, chief executive officer, and president of Installed Building Products, as well as president of Edwards Companies. His investment represents the largest private contribution to public art in the history of Columbus. He has donated the work to the Columbus Museum of Art, which will oversee the care and maintenance of the sculpture as part of its permanent collection, ensuring it will continue to inspire wonder far into the future.
The lighting will be turned on daily at sunset and will be switched off at a time determined based on resident input.
Current is 126 feet tall, 83 feet wide and 229 feet long. Just 71 feet short of a football field, it’s the longest public artwork in Columbus. It weighs 714 pounds and is composed of 512,460 total knots made from 78.5 miles of twine.
The primary material used is an engineered fiber that is 15 times stronger than steel by weight, allowing the artwork to be flexible yet withstand hurricane force winds. Additional elements used include colored LED lighting and architectural attachments.
Echelman leads a design team that spans the globe and includes aeronautical and mechanical engineers, lighting designers, computer scientists, landscape architects and fabricators. Her studio designs projects according to the climate and intended lifespan for each site and context to ensure the longevity of the piece.
Suspended in the air above Gay and High, the intersection of arts and culture in Columbus, Current will be a grand bookend for the burgeoning Gay Street District. Anchored to the east by the Columbus Museum of Art and Columbus College for Art and Design, its location is intended to be inclusive and accessible, directly above a space we all share: the street.
Rooted in Columbus’ history, The title Current holds dual meaning, alluding to both river current and electric current of the iconic lighted archways, visualizing a flow of energy. Echelman’s colors transition gradually from red to blue, leading visitors from the red bricks of the city’s earliest buildings to its vibrant riverfront park. Inspired by the lighted archways that once traversed High Street, the structure will be oriented east to west, connecting the city’s urban street grid with its river waterfront.
A concern for wildlife safety is integral to Janet Echelman’s design and planning process. No bird or creature has ever been harmed in Janet’s works, of which she has more than 50 around the world. Studio Echelman consulted with a bio-engineering firm which determined that the qualities of Echelman’s pieces make them safe for birds and wildlife. The net openings are similar to naturally occurring vines and thickets often found in forests, and birds are well adapted to avoid these.
The safety of drivers and pedestrians was of the utmost concern when planning for this artwork and was evaluated by the City of Columbus prior to approval by the Downtown Commission. While Current will be a striking visual focal point for the City, the artwork will be seamlessly integrated into the skyline.
Janet Echelman is a world-renowned artist with a track record of creating distinct artworks at a colossal scale to create a unique sense of place. No stranger to Columbus, the artist was inspired by the city’s history and sense of cooperation known as the Columbus Way.
As Current becomes embedded into the fabric of downtown, it will serve as a starting point for engaging a diverse intersection of our community. To achieve this, a working group of people has been created with varying backgrounds who will help further define, program and activate a growing arts and culture district downtown.
Janet Echelman has created more than 50 installations that have become focal points for urban life on five continents, from Singapore, Sydney, Shanghai and Santiago to New York and London. Her permanent art commissions draw millions of annual visitors in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, British Columbia (Canada) and Oporto (Portugal).
Through an unprecedented level of philanthropy to the public art space in the Columbus community, Jeffrey W. Edwards, chairman, chief executive officer, and president of Installed Building Products, as well as president of Edwards Companies, has fully funded the creation of Current. Edwards’ investment has covered the costs for design, fabrication, installation and engineering to support this soaring sculpture. He has donated the piece to be a part of the Columbus Museum of Art’s permanent collection, and also funded maintenance, deinstallation and reinstallation annually.
No public tax dollars were used.
Janet Echelman designed the work for Columbus to be seasonal with a period of hibernation each winter when the work is deinstalled to avoid ice accumulation, followed by a celebration ritual each spring when it is reinstalled. “As an artist, I follow nature. And I hope the winter functions like the absence of a lover, giving us a chance to experience it anew each spring,” Echelman noted.
With funding provided by Jeffery W. Edwards, chairman, chief executive officer, and president of Installed Building Products, as well as president of Edwards Companies, the Columbus Museum of Art will oversee the care and maintenance of the sculpture as part of its permanent collection, ensuring it will continue to inspire wonder far into the future.
The creation and installation of public art in Columbus is surging, a pace that will only accelerate as the Greater Columbus Arts Council kicks off a strategic public art plan for the City of Columbus.
Current joins a growing collection of electric, thought-provoking pieces scattered around Columbus. Just in Downtown, new opportunities have been created for local artists to add culture and vibrancy in the public realm including mural Grow Beyond the Fabric by Mandi Caskey, a temporary work by April Sunami on the Lazarus Building, 13 Art Spot windows and three new murals on The Peninsula garages.