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‘Ding’s’ bathrooms get an upgrade

By Staff | Sep 6, 2017

David Williams with part of his mural and Andrew Corke’s manatee “sculptires.” ASHLEY GOODMAN

“Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is entering the second phase of its bathroom renovations. Through a grant from the West Coast Inland Navigational District and private donations, David Williams, an artist from Charlotte, North Carolina, will complete a mural with 3-D marine creatures alongside Andrew Corke’s manatee “sculptires” on the wall next to “Ding’s” bathrooms outside of the Visitor & Education Center.

The refuge’s new #LearningLav will have educational messages about recycling, mangroves, manatees, sea turtles, birds and fish. The entrance to the new bathrooms will have visitors feel like they’re underwater in a salt marsh. The 3-D creatures which will be a part of the outdoor mural, consist of an alligator, an otter, two ospreys, a pelican, a green sea turtle and a loggerhead turtle. Inside the bathrooms, Williams will install an osprey in the women’s bathroom and a tarpon in the men’s. The sculptures were made from soft foam and then coated in fiber glass.

It took Williams about five weeks to make all of the sculptures.

“It’s those 3-D things that are really going to pull it together,” Williams said.

In addition to the sculptures, each bathroom will have photographic mangrove mural made out of tile. The new bathrooms are slated to open by the end of September.

“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society - Friends of the Refuge Development Coordinator Carrie Alexander, Deputy Refuge Ranger Nate Caswell, artist David Williams, Refuge Manager Paul Tritaik and “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society Community Outreach and Development Intern Sierra Hoisington hold some of the sculptures that will be a part of the outdoor mural. Chelle Koster Walton

This isn’t the first time Williams has done work for “Ding.” Previously, he has worked on the entrance archway and the scat exhibits on the Wildlife Education Boardwalk on the Indigo Trail.

Williams’ fascination with nature and wildlife began at an early age. Living on a rural farm in Lexington, North Carolina, only fueled his love of learning.

“I’ve always gotten out and experienced things since I was a kid. I had plenty of acreage and family land to walk all over and discover things. My dad was a big influence, too. He would show me what trees were where and my mom was very artistic. I probably got a little from both of them,” Williams said.

Eventually, Williams received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Western Carolina University in 1988. After graduating, Williams took a graphic design internship at the North Carolina Zoo. It was there he was exposed to the world of 3-D.

“I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of it,” he said. “I did a lot of painting and sculpture never knowing that I was headed down a career like that, it was just fun stuff.”

In time, Williams created his own business, Wingin’ It Works in 1996. His business focuses on murals, signage, graphic design, illustration and exhibit design.

“I’ve haven’t looked back, I’ve been winging’ it ever since,” Williams said.

Over the span of Williams’ career, he has done 3-D works, panels and signage for zoos, aquariums, museums, nature centers in the southeast.

“I’ve done everything from resident’s homes to state and county work,” Williams said. “I wear a lot of hats and it keeps me busy.”

Williams’ future projects include doing work for a living history museum in Conway, South Carolina and a visitor’s center in the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. For more information about his art, go to winginitworks.com.