By Zach Solon | April 29, 2021 at 10:27 PM EDT – Updated April 29 at 11:33 PM
WHITEVILLE, N.C. (WECT) – For months, Whiteville native Bess Hinson Taylor has been painting a series of murals around the city, all with the shape of a butterfly.
While Taylor has not always been an artist, she has spent years building up towards painting the large murals that are now spread throughout the city. The first ones popped up about a year ago on the side of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Whiteville. There, Taylor met the head of the museum, Shelby Gull Laird.
“We decided to put butterflies from a lot of the different species that are native to North Carolina on the side of our museum in an effort to decorate it,” said Laird.
Then, the Whiteville Rotary Club partnered with other local organizations to fund more butterfly murals on the side of different businesses around the city. Thursday night, the club dedicated the new mural trail in an effort to bring people into the city as they navigate out of the pandemic and into the summer season.
“This is a great way to support downtown development in Whiteville. Just to really make downtown a destination and help with the branding,” said Justin Smith, president of the Whiteville Rotary Club. “What better than to be known as the downtown with all the butterfly murals?”
While the three murals unveiled today are all Taylor has completed so far, she believes the butterflies could grow even larger through Whiteville in the future.
“I think it could be more than just me,” said Taylor. “I’ve done them in different styles so the different artists could be a part of this, and also different mediums. There could be a metal butterfly from a local metal worker.”
With the museum looking for new visitors from within the Cape Fear region, Laird says they are already seeing positive results.
“I’ve seen people drive through our parking lot so they can check out the butterflies, which is amazing,” said Laird. “So we want them to stop and come inside too, but even just having people come by and admire the beauty of it is worth it to us.”
While Taylor started working on the murals two years ago, she thinks her paintings are even more important now as the city and the country try to recover from the pandemic.
“I think it was meant to be and I think it was meant to be now more than two years ago because people need something hopeful” said Taylor. “People need something to go do that they can do outside and be a part of something encouraging.”
The three murals are spread throughout the city. Two are located on South Madison and another on East Main Street, next to the train station. Taylor encourages visitors to use #WhitevilleButterflies to share pictures of the murals.
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