Sculpture to pay homage to South Norfolk Jordan Bridge

Originally Published on January 27, 2022


A new sculpture standing at one end of the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge will be crafted from unusual materials: colorful, repurposed and weather-resistant buoys and crab trap floats.
Local artists Nicole C. Harp and Jeannine Harkleroad — winners of an outdoor art installation contest to commemorate the SNJB’s upcoming 10th anniversary in October — co-designed the 3D piece to resemble the sun as it peaks over the water.
 The “sunrise/sunset” theme is a nod to the bridge’s central role in many commuters’ journeys to and from work. The sculpture will measure at least 14 feet tall and 18 feet wide, and is set to occupy a small parcel of land at the bridge’s western end by midfall, if not earlier.
“It has a cheerful and optimistic feel, with a lot of color and texture to draw eyes,” says Harp, a Norfolk resident and frequent SNJB driver. “We love the idea of people seeing this kind of environmentally friendly art as they travel through their days.”
The SNJB, the region’s tallest bridge, connects Chesapeake and Portsmouth across the Elizabeth River’s Southern Branch. The two-lane structure offers sweeping panoramic views, and features a popular pedestrian sideway separated from traffic by a concrete barrier.
Harp and Harkleroad, friends and fellow teachers at Granby High School in Norfolk, will partner with a professional fabricator to construct their artwork on the Portsmouth side of the span. Harp is a painter by specialty, while Harkleroad is a sculptor.
“Safety is first,” says Harkleroad, who lives at the base of the bridge in Chesapeake and often walks its pedestrian path with her 8-year-old son and dog. “Our goal is to stick as close to our original drawing as safely possible.”

The current strategy is to mount a navigational buoy on a sturdy base and weld metal tubing off that buoy in multiple layers. The artists then plan to thread smaller floats over the tubing, using shapes, colors and lighting to create a visual of a rising or setting sun.

 The SNJB opened in 2012 and is owned and operated by United Bridge Partners, a private infrastructure investment company based in Colorado. An independent selection committee judged the art contest.

The winning design is uplifting and unique, says Kevin Crum, general manager of operations at the SNJB. He hopes the artwork can help turn a roughly half-acre plot of land into a more park-like gathering spot. The SNJB’s Chesapeake side is already home to the Elizabeth River Park, which includes a children’s play area, boat launch, benches and picnic tables.
“This is a lasting gift that will beautify this area even further,” Crum says. “It’s also fun — I’m picturing people walking on the sidewalk liking to take selfies in front of it. We’re just trying to enhance the experience of everyone who uses the bridge.”
Harp and Harkleroad can’t wait to get started.

“We’re so excited to be part of a collaborative community project like this,” Harp says. “What a great way to begin 2022.”

Click here for more information on the Liberty Bridge project.

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