Whirligigs, Spinning Into Art History

DaySpring Media shot and posted a video about Vollis Simpson’s whirligigs and the Whirligig Park Project for Wilson, NC’s local government channel.

Whirligigs are well loved American folk-art. These whimsical caricatures of animals, planes, or farm equipment typically have blades that rotate in the wind and cause various parts of the sculpture to move. Ninety-three year old WWII veteran Vollis Simpson became a celebrity when the world outside his Lucama, NC home learned about his whirligigs.

What sets Vollis Simpson’s whirligigs (he calls them windmills) apart from others are the materials he uses, and the size of his masterpieces. Made almost entirely from salvaged materials: bearings, metal scraps, reflectors, road signs and license plates discarded from prisons, some of Simpson’s pieces are nearly 40’ tall! Even more amazing, he assembles, paints, and mounts the larger than life sculptures himself, and continues to create them almost daily.

Vollis SimpsonNow, a collaboration between Wilson Downtown Properties, the City of Wilson, the NC Arts Council, and others will ensure that Mr. Simpson’s art can be appreciated for generations to come. That collaboration, the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park Project, will relocate 29 of the iconic structures to a 2-acre lot in downtown Wilson, NC. Prior to the park’s opening, the pieces are being restored to their original mechanical and aesthetic condition. The project has created jobs for local artisans and engineers, and is a key element of the city’s downtown revitalization efforts.