Raleigh muralist survives car crash while traveling abroad, begins new project

ByLaura Browne via WTVD logo
Thursday, August 11, 2022
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Raleigh muralist says her approach to art is altered after a serious car accident during a vacation in Iceland.

RALIEGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Fidgeting with the string of her paint-splattered apron, Raleigh muralist Taylor White recalled the car accident that broke two of her vertebrae during a vacation in Iceland, and altered her approach to art.

"The person that was in the van before it flipped was a different version of me," White said. "I have so much more grace, clarity and focus. So much less noise, baggage. I don't have anything to prove. So, I seem to be taking a different approach mentally and emotionally with the work that I'm making now."

After spending time recovering from her injury, White is picking up her paint brush to start a new mural for the Willard Rooftop Bar and Lounge, but her methods for this mural differ from her past work.

Rather than physically painting on a wall, White paints on a mural fabric called PolyTab cloth. When she finishes her work, the PolyTab cloth featuring her art will be applied to the designated wall and blend in with the wall's features, giving the appearance that it was painted directly on.

White's reasons for this new approach include the difficulty of accessing the wall of the building and the fact that working in the studio remains easier following her injury.

"It keeps the wear and tear on my body minimal," she said. "Because I don't have to do a whole lot of acrobatics to get up there. I work at my own pace in an air conditioned room, which is just a lot less exhausting than working outside in the elements."

White paints the mural in sections. Meticulously measuring five by five foot portions of the PolyTab cloth and painting two at a time.

She said her paintings draw inspiration from the legacy of botanist William Willard Ash. Some of his collections and catalogues of plant specimens remain in the UNC Herbarium.

According to White, work on the mural should have started last year when she planned to return from her trip to Iceland, but her injury disrupted this.

She and eight acquaintances were riding in a 15-passenger van during a windstorm when the wind suddenly pushed the van onto two wheels, flipping it about 3 times before it landed in a ditch.

"Thank God for the ditch," White said. "Because we probably would've just kept rolling across the plain if not for that."

She thinks she was hit from behind during the chaos, resulting in her injury. White said she spent 10 days in the hospital and around 6 months in recovery.

After time spent rehabilitating, she said she is back to normal.

White said she remains grateful to those who commissioned her work at the Willard for accommodating time for her recovery and the incorporation of her new method.

In addition, White said she continues to feel thankful for the PolyTab cloth for making this project more accessible.

"It's just important to be able to fulfill your purpose," she said. "And so the more ways and means that there are available to you, the better."