'Hardhat Heroes' celebrates labors of shipyard workers

Local shipyard workers are the subject of a photographic exhibit that pays tribute to their efforts to keep the Navy's fleet running.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WVEC)--  They're the backbone of the local economy, and they keep the Navy fleet ship-shape.

They are the "Hardhat Heroes," the shipyard workers of Hampton Roads. They are the men and women who make up a new photographic exhibition that opens this weekend in Portsmouth.

The series features 10 shipyards from the area and 9,000 pictures that date back to 2014.

13News Now previously told the story of the project  from the point of view of the man behind the camera, photographer Glen McClure. For the first time, some of the people on the other side of the lens spoke to us.

"I thought it was really neat because I think a lot of people on the outside don't really understand what we do on the inside at the yard," said Stephanie Twine, an occupational safety, health, and environmental inspector at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

For the most part, the public is kept completely out of the 250-year-old shipyard. McClure's work gives people a rare look inside it and at its employees.

 "I think it's pretty interesting," said wood crafter Kelby Lilly. "I think a lot of people have no idea what goes on, and this gives them a small take of what we do. You know, it's hard to just tell people what we're all about, but giving them something to look at can kind of give them a picture in their head."

The exhibition debuted in May at Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, and it will be featured at other locations in Hampton Roads beginning this month.

"It's cool, you know, out of 10,000 people we got at the shipyard, you know, it's amazing I was picked as one. Means  a lot. I appreciate it," said wood crafter Daniel  Bundy.

When asked what she thought of the finished product, rigger Kristen Fly said, "I think it's great. I think it's exciting."

The opening reception for Hardhat Heroes: A Photographic Portrait by Glen McClure at the Portsmouth Art and Cultural Center is June 2 from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m.

The exhibition will there until August 6.

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