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North Carolina Visionary Artists

By Sarajanee Davis, N.C. Government & Heritage Library, 2020

Do you know what the official folk art of North Carolina is?

Well, if your first question is what folk art, that’s a good place to start.

What is Folk Art? Photograph of Minnie Evans's artwork titled, "Visions" that is on display at the Hickory Museum of Art.

Folk art, which is also known as visionary art, is created by someone who is not a trained artist. This means they did not go to school to learn how to make art. North Carolina native Vollis Simpson was a world-famous visionary artist. His whirligigs are pieces of art that resemble windmills. They became the Official Folk Art of North Carolina in 2013. 

North Carolina is home to many excellent visionary artists. Minnie Evans was one of the most respected and most well-known. Ms. Evans was born near Wilmington, North Carolina in 1890. She worked as a gatekeeper at Airlie Gardens in Wilmington. Nature inspired a lot of her art. Her pieces often featured bright colors, florals, and animals. Today you can see her art in museums throughout the country. There is also a sculpture garden dedicated to her memory at Airlie Gardens. Visitors learn about her art style and life.

What kind of visionary art would you like to create or see at your school?


“Minnie Evans.” Smithsonian American Art Museum. Accessed February 19, 2020.

Vitiello, Chris. “The Extraordinary Legacy of Whirligig creator Vollis Simpson.” Indy Week. June 5, 2013.

Additional Resources

“Minnie Evans 1892-1987.” Anton Haardt Gallery. Accessed February 19, 2020.

Philip McFee and Bruce Baker. “Folk Art.” Encyclopedia of North Carolina and NC Pedia. 2006.

Ardath Goldstein Weaver. “State Folk Art of North Carolina: Whirligigs by Vollis Simpson.” NC Pedia. 2013.

Image Credit

Steve Loya. “Minnie Evans ‘Vision.’” Photograph. Flickr. December 1, 2016.