Artist: Benjamin Heller
Material Used: Locally Sourced Sandstone
Location: Pleasure House Point
The Virginia Beach Office of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation, commissioned Benjamin Heller for a residency during the summer of 2018 to create Terrapin Basin. As a resident artist, Heller created his work on-site with the support of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center. The goal of the artwork is to foster a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the Chesapeake Bay through calling attention to the local ecology.
Terrapin Basin is a 5’ x 7’ sculpture that is set into the ground, creating a basin inviting visitors to explore. The sculpture is constructed from regionally sourced sandstone, which was cut, assembled, and polished on-site. Heller’s carving process is similar to the formation of rivers and coastlines – an active process, and one that he shared with visitors as the project unfolded. The stone form of the sculpture mimics the shape of nests that diamondback terrapins dig to lay their eggs. This piece serves as an educational and interactive experience. It encourages conversations about the impact human presence has on the local environment and the ways in which we can appreciate and preserve it.
About the Artist
Benjamin Heller is a cross-disciplinary artist, working within various mediums for his sculptures and other pieces. He draws from a diverse background and training in visual arts, photography, dance, and physical improvisation. He aspires to create intimate settings that can be entered and explored via one’s senses and imagination.
Heller’s work has been shown at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, Brooklyn Museum, Wave Hill, New York Live Arts, ICP International Center of Photography, Robin Rice Gallery, Fresh Window Gallery, Eyebeam, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Honey Space Gallery in New York. In 2013, he was selected for the Bronx Museum’s Artist in the Marketplace residency program and Biennial Exhibition.