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Folk Art

Whirligigs created by Vollis Simpson

Excerpt from Session Law 2013-189, House Bill 830:

Photograph of whirligigs by Vollis Simpson in Vollis Simpson Park, Lucama in Wilson County, N.C.  Image by the NC ECHO Project, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, taken August 18, 2002.  Presented on NC Digital Collections. Session Law 2013-189, signed June 26, 2013, gave North Carolina the following state symbols: state fossil, state frog, state salamander, state marsupial, state folk art, and state art medium.

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...

§ 145‑45.  State folk art.
The whirligigs created by Vollis Simpson are adopted as the official folk art of the State of North Carolina.

Additional information coming soon.

Image Credits:

[Whirligigs by Vollis Simpson in Vollis Simpson Park, Lucama in Wilson County, N.C.] Photograph. August 18, 2002. NC ECHO Project, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. (accessed December 18, 2014).




What's some fun facts about the symbol


Hi Avontae,

Thanks for asking this question!

Here are a few that I can think of -- maybe you can find more!

  • Whirligigs are a unique and interesting type of folk art to become representative for the state as a state symbol.  And they're pretty fun.  People often think of more traditional types of folk art such as pottery, quilts and woodworking as folk art symbols.
  • Because they are displayed in the open air and subject to the elements (like rain), they rust!
  • They were a unique roadside attraction at Volis Simpson's property in Wilson County for years before they earned him reknown as a folk artist. People from other towns and states came to Wilson County to see them.

I hope this helps!

Best wishes,

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library



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