Mule sculpture installed in Benson

Standing proud at the intersection of NC Highways 27 and 50


The town of Benson announced the installation of its mule sculpture on the pedestal at the intersection of N.C. Highways 27 and 50 is now complete.

This installation is the culmination of nearly a year of research and deliberation by the Benson Art Advisory Board. The mule — as an icon — was chosen for its obvious connection to the town of Benson and its farming heritage, annual Mule Days celebration, and how the famed “stubborn” animal represents a drive into the future while also representing Benson’s roots.

Greenville artist Jonathan Bowling, aided by Benson Public Works and the Benson Police Depart for brief traffic control, finished installing the statue Tuesday, Sept. 21, just before noon.

Bowling is an accomplished sculptor — his commissioned works can be seen at the Public Sculpture Park in New Bern, the Secret Garden Gallery in Ocracoke, the Chowan Arts Council in Edenton, and the Peninsula Fine Arts Center in Newport News, Virginia, among several other locations around the nation.

His unique approach to sculpture utilizes scrap metal from old vehicles, farm equipment, discarded tools, and structural components like steel rebar to form something new entirely — like Benson’s mule.

Taking a closer look at his latest piece for the town of Benson, the complexity reveals itself. Wrenches for the mane, welded chain for the tail — while cogs, gears, steels supports, machinery panels, and more make up the body of the animal.

The town of Benson would also like to thank North Carolina Department of Transportation Division 4 for assisting with this roadside enhancement project several years ago with the elevated landscape area/pedestal and allowing the installation of the sculpture under the NCDOT Right of Way Art Policy.

To see a video documenting the installation of the sculpture, follow the town of Benson on Facebook. This opportunity was made possible by the Johnston County Visitors Bureau through occupancy taxes collected from Benson hotels — designated for marketing and the beautification of downtown Benson.


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