Simpson art considered for state designation

Friday, May 03, 2013

The N.C. House will vote Monday night on a bill to make Vollis Simpson's whirligigs the state's official folk art.

House Bill 830, cosponsored by N.C. Rep. Susan Martin of Wilson, is scheduled for a second vote by the entire House. Should it pass, it will go to the N.C. Senate for its discussion.

In part, the bill calls for "the whirligigs created by Vollis Simpson (to be) adopted as the official folk art of the State of North Carolina."

The bill cites these as the reasons for the designation:

  • "Whereas, at age 65, Vollis Simpson, a self-taught folk artist, began making giant windmills known as 'whirligigs' at his home in Wilson, North Carolina; and,
  • "Whereas, Mr. Simpson's whirligigs have been exhibited at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, and at other locations, including New York, California, Canada, and England; and
  • "Whereas, Mr. Simpson and details of his artwork have been featured in many national magazines and in several books; and
  • "Whereas, the City of Wilson is developing the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park to display a large collection of these whirligigs in historic downtown, which will be a one-of-a-kind destination for visitors."

The session begins at 7 p.m. Monday, and Rep. Martin is expected to speak on behalf of Mr. Simpson's art. The public can attend and watch from the gallery.

The bill also designates the teeth of the megalodon shark as the state's official fossil, the pine barrows tree frog as the official frog; the marbled salamander as the official salamander; the Virginia opossum as the official marsupial; and clay as the state's official art medium.