ALEXANDRIA, VA-The City of Alexandria’s newest public art installation, “Groundswell,” will be on display in Alexandria’s Waterfront Park (1 Prince St.) later this month. This temporary installation by Mark Reigelman is the third in the “ Site See: New Views in Old Town” annual public art series and can be viewed from late March through November.
Commissioned to create an original installation for Waterfront Park, Reigelman focused on Alexandria’s evolving waterfront as the shoreline crept further into the Potomac River. In his research, he learned that drastic measures manipulated the city’s shoreline. Starting in the 18th century, thousands of wood pilings were driven deeper into the Potomac River over time, thereby shifting the city’s waterfront over decades. This allowed Alexandria to develop and grow its sprawling dock into a major commercial port.
“Groundswell” pays homage to this ever-evolving history and brings an element of play to the shoreline’s topography. The installation features a ground mural depicting the floor of the Potomac River and more than 100 wood pilings throughout the site. They will range in heights from 12 to 42 inches, in accordance with the river floor topography. Each 14-inch-diameter piling will be topped with a cobalt blue, mirrored surface etched with tree growth rings that suggest the passing of time. They will glisten in the light like the nearby water, reflecting the sky and the faces of passersby. Reigelman hopes visitors will be immersed in this shimmering landscape as they navigate through the pilings, considering their place in the city’s history.
The “Site See” temporary public art series highlights Waterfront Park as a civic space and is informed by the historic waterfront and neighboring community. Waterfront Park is a key location for original commissioned art in Alexandria. The newest installation follows Olalekan Jeyifous’s 2020 installation, “ Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies,” and SOFTlab’s 2019 installation, “ Mirror Mirror.” Reigelman was selected to create the third site-specific artwork by a community task force with the Alexandria Commission for the Arts’ approval. The City will again commission regional artists to create site-specific performances or activations in response to the installation later this year.