About the Artist
Vollis, who lived outside of Wilson, North Carolina, never called himself an artist, but, after days working at moving houses and repairing machinery, he would spend his extra time constructing fantastical whirligigs from spare parts and erecting them in his yard. Referencing weather vanes but also popular culture and local signage, his enormous windmills became a popular attraction, drawing many visitors to the crossroads outside his workshop, and eventually the attention of international art collections. Many of his creations can now be seen at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park in downtown Wilson, which is dedicated to the work of restoring and preserving these vibrant, colorful and dynamic pieces for the community and future generations of visitors.
Much of Vollis Simpson’s work is being preserved in Wilson, North Carolina at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park. Their website is under construction. They hold an annual Whirligig Festival to celebrate these fun and whimsical artworks.
Simpson’s whirligigs have been designated the State Folk Art of North Carolina.
Where Else Can You Find His Work?
American Visionary Art Museum
North Carolina Museum of Art
Gregg Museum of Art and Design, North Carolina State University
Saint James Place Folk Art Museum, Robersonville, NC
Publications and Press:
Tree of Life, American Visionary Art Museum, November 24, 1995-September 1, 1996, Guest Curator: Roger Manley
Wind in My Hair, American Visionary Art Museum, October 12, 1996-April 21, 1997, Guest Curator: Susanne Theis
Flying Free: Twentieth Century Self-Taught Art from the Collection of Ellin and Baron Gordon, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center, May 18-October 26, 1997, Curator: Barbara Luck. Catalog
Still Worth Keeping: Communities, Preservation and Self-Taught Artists, South Carolina State Museum, October 18, 1997-March 8, 1998, Curators: Polly Laffitte and Tom Stanely
Noah’s Art: Animals by Southern Self-Taught Artists, Art Museum of the University of Memphis, August 1-September 19, 1998, Curator: Carol Crown
Vollis Simpson Whirligigs, John and June Allcott Gallery, UNC at Chapel Hill, September 5-October 3, 2013, Curator: Jina Valentine