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Netted sculpture billows above St. Petersburg pier

November 1st, 2020 / By: / Swatches

The netted sculpture Bending Arc continuously changes shape and color from day to night. Photos: Brian Adams.

Artist Janet Echelman used 180 miles of twine and 1,662,528 knots to create the ethereal look of Bending Arc, the aerial sculpture commissioned for St. Pete Pier, a 26-acre destination on the waterfront in St. Petersburg, Fla. 

Echelman is known internationally for monumental net sculpture installations. Bending Arc was designed to celebrate change as it continuously shifts and transforms with the wind. The artist, who grew up in Tampa, looked to the history of Tampa–St. Petersburg as she developed the concept for the installation. She was drawn to postcards of a bygone era depicting blue-and-white-striped beach parasols. From an aerial view, Bending Arc’sshape is reminiscent of three parasols connected in the sky. 

She also learned that the location was significant for advancing civil rights. A challenge to racially discriminatory practices at the site led to the 1957 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the rights of all citizens to enjoy use of the municipal beach and swimming pool. Echelman named the sculpture Bending Arc in reference to Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous words, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” 

The knotted netting is made of braided polytetra fluoroethylene (PTFE) fiber twine hand-joined to double-braided ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) rope. It spans 424 feet, is 72 feet at its highest point and weighs 5,330 pounds. During the day, Bending Arc casts dappled shadows on the park and visitors as the blue-and-white form floats above. It’s fitted with colored lights that radiate dramatic magenta and violet tones at night. For more, visit www.echelman.com.