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Art draws attention to bad curve

Rachel Watkins, an artist, stands beside the protest signs she put up in her yard. She hopes the signs and art of mannequins covered in paint will encourage the Department of Transportation to do something about a traffic problem. Sarah Grano / LTN Photo

People speeding down N.C. 18 may decide to slow down when turning a curve outside of Rachel Watkins’ house if only to get a better look at the severed mannequin heads.
“I think it draws attention to the bad curves,” said Elizabeth Mull, a spectator. “I’m not sure I approve or disprove because I think someone might have an accident looking at it.”
Watkins’ yard has attracted many onlookers since she filled it with signs chastising the Department of Transportation (DOT) and sarcastically urging cars to go faster.
In the year and a half that the 55-year-old sculptor has lived in West Lincoln with her husband, four car accidents have taken place outside her home.
Watkins and her husband moved from Charlotte in order to get away from development. Little did they know, they had bought a house on a dangerous stretch of highway.
“We didn’t know that these beautiful boulders out here were put there to keep cars from hitting our house,” said Watkins.
The most recent car accident occurred on Wednesday night 30 ft. from her bedroom, and Watkins’ decided she had had enough.
“I looked out the window and here were two headlights staring me in the eyes,” she said.
While her husband was sleeping, Watkins created a protest art that filled her whole yard using dismembered mannequin parts and red paint.

After having a car crash in her front yard, Rachel Watkins, an artist living in western Lincoln County, took it upon herself to encourage people to go slower with signs and dismembered mannequins covered in red paint. Sarah Grano / LTN Photo

“All the anger and fear I have for my family, I’m expressing it the best way I know how,” said Watkins.
Her husband was not too happy with what he found when he woke up on Thursday morning.
“I didn’t like it,” said Don Watkins. “It’s unusual looking stuff, and I didn’t want to offend the local people.”
So far, reaction has been mostly positive, said Watkins.
She did however, receive one request screamed at her from a passing vehicle to take it down.
Watkins doesn’t plan to do so until the DOT solves the problem.
“They can put a man on the moon, but they can’t fix a traffic problem?” she asked. “There’s a solution out there, and there’s someone who can figure it out.”
In the meantime, it’s given her neighbors a lot to talk about.
“I think it’s a good thing because it makes people think,” said Becky Pearson.
Jeff Crotts, who runs a business across the street from Watkins’ house wouldn’t comment on his personal opinion of the art.
“Hey, it’s been good for business,” he said.
Watkins’ husband would like her to take down the art soon, but she doesn’t plan to do so until the speed limit is lowered to 35 mph and street lights are put up.
If anyone decides to take down the protest art themselves, it wouldn’t phase her.
“If it gets stolen, fine,” she said. “I’ve got more coming.”

by Sarah Grano

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