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Driscoll, Ellen

Mid-Cambridge, Sculpture

449 Broadway Street

Cambridge, MA 02138

Location Description: Cambridge Main Public Library, two-story atrium that links the original library with the new addition, accesible through main entrance of new addition

Date: 2010

Materials: Etched glass, zinc panels, textile, imagery

Driscoll has created an installation using materials and visual references that evoke the histories of women, inquiry, and human invention.



Large perforated zinc panels line the walls and through simulated glass reveal the colorful textile patterns of many cultures. Wall-mounted cables weave a three-dimensional diagram representing the interconnectedness of all things. Driscoll’s artwork for the Library honors the contributions of women to the life of the City and will is located in a sky-lit, two-story atrium that links the original Library building with the new addition. Using etched glass, perforated zinc panels, woven cable, text, and textile imagery, Driscoll’s art envelopes the audience within a metaphorical space. A diagram of the interconnectedness of women’s relational roles, their agency, and the places they influence and inhabit literally and poetically is brought into three dimensions by an intricate cable design that forms a web across the atrium, framing the sky seen through the glass roof. This woven design represents the oldest and most universal of women’s activities – weaving and sewing.


On the first floor of the atrium, the dot pattern of a jacquard loom punch card from the nineteenth century reveals a colorful lexicon of textile patterns from around the globe, made by the simple act of connecting string to string in an endless stream of invention. The textile patterns are etched into 240 glass circles cut into a zinc-covered wall. The jacquard loom punch card is the distinct precursor to the invention of computers, the research tool of the twenty-first century. The theme attempts to encompass all that may yet happen in the lives of women, men, and the city and in all fields of inquiry.



Filament/Firmament is a collaborative of the Cambridge Commission on the Status of Women, the Cambridge Arts Council, and the Cambridge Public Library. With the mission of honoring the women of Cambridge, the artist, in collaboration with a cultural historian, has gathered stories and extensive information from the Cambridge community and historical resources. This information provides the background and inspiration for the public artwork.

 Ellen Driscoll’ s sculpture, drawings, and installations have won her recognition nationally and internationally. Her numerous public art commissions range from a mosaic, brass, and glass installation in New York’s Grand Central Station to fabric banners above Boston’s public parks. Solo exhibitions include shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati. She is a recipient of Guggenheim and Bunting Fellowships, among other awards, and her work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum, and Addison Gallery of American Art. Driscoll is also a professor of sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design.