‘Beneath the Brine’: Dijulio and PA art students help build public sculpture set to be placed under Rudee Inlet


PA art students helping to construct paddles to be placed on the public sculpture. (Photo courtesy of Betsy DiJulio).

Maggie Booze

By Maggie Booze

Art teacher Betsy DiJulio and nine members of the National Art Honor Society participated in constructing a new sculpture for Rudee Inlet. They collaborated with the Work Project Administration (WPA) architectural firm in Norfolk who had won the commission, and took a field trip to 757 Makerspace in October at Rudee Inlet at the oceanfront, to build components of the sculpture called “Beneath the Brine,” named after a poem by Walt Whitman.

“I am friends with one of the principal architects of WPA, Thom White, and he asked if my students would be interested in helping with the fabrication of the sculpture,” said DiJulio. “He wanted students to come and help, so I said absolutely!”

“Beneath the Brine” is going to be a covering people can stand under while waiting for the trolley that goes up and down Atlantic Avenue.

“It has vague references to the sea, but it’s not anything trite, like leaping dolphins and palm trees,” said DiJulio.

“It’s really beautiful in terms of color, and it’s kinetic in the sense that the wind will move it back and forth. It’s made of glass and sand, and the sand is clinging on to the molds so it references the sea in that way. And then just the glass itself looks like undersea life and like an undersea world.”

At 757 Makerspace, they aided in the construction of 200+ paddles that had to be assembled for the structure, which will be strung onto the top.

“[757 Makerspace] is the neatest warehouse environment where people can come and do screen printing, and laser-cutting, and woodworking, and all sorts of artisanal activities. It’s amazing!” said DiJulio.

They assembled the paddles and the rest of the assembly and fabrication will happen on sight, hopefully sometime this month, with possible help from PA students again.

National Art Honor Society member junior Isabel Ferguson said that the experience was “very eye-opening to work with other artists in my community and it inspired me a lot to see how art changes lives and can represent so much more than what we originally see.”