Vollis Simpson began building wind machines when he was stationed on Saipan during World War II. After the war he designed and built heavy equipment for moving houses and opened a repair shop in a rural crossroads community in eastern North Carolina. He continued to be interested in wind power and constructed several other large windmills, one of which powered the heating system in his house. He gradually retired from his house-moving business and in 1985 began making a cluster of monumental wind machines that he erected on one corner of his brother’s farm outside of Lucama, North Carolina.
Mr. Simpson is one of North Carolina’s most original and inventive artists. He combines such diverse materials as highway signs, fan blades, candle holders, and bicycle wheels and mounts them on armatures of industrial machine parts, creating highly kinetic sculptures that move at the slightest breeze. Built entirely by Mr. Simpson’s 83-year-old hands, they are imbued with a rough-hewn elegance that belies their monumental size.
tags: STEAM, force, movement, part/whole, play, power, reuse, environment, physics, engineering, whirligig
Commissioned by the North Carolina Museum of Art with funds from the William R. Roberson Jr. and Frances M. Roberson Endowed Fund for North Carolina Art