By Amanda Lea
Nestled under the overpass of Matheson Bridge in NoDa is an intermingling of vibrant colors and local history. Charlotte artist William Puckett created a mural that illustrates the 1775 Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, or “Meck Dec,” when Charlotte became the first community in the 13 colonies to declare independence from Great Britain. The document declared the “authority of the King or Parliament” to be “null and void.” No copies of the Meck Dec exist, and the document never appeared in any Colonial newspapers or other records. Although there isn’t physical proof of its existence, it remains city tradition to celebrate the Meck Dec each year on May 20.
The 14,000-square-foot piece of art resides within the bridge that serves as a gateway to the NoDa community. It was unveiled in May 2012, the month of the declaration’s 237th anniversary.
The mural reflects traditional Renaissance art with a fairytale flair. The columns supporting the underpass feature two different classifications of individuals in Charlotte’s history. The ones facing the road are prominent figures, including General Thomas Gage and King George III. The grey characters on the sides of the columns are individuals who were present during the declaration’s signing but not recognized in the community.
The slopes of the underpass serve as a backdrop for oversized storybook pages, with illustrations depicting North Carolina’s role in the Revolutionary War and the events surrounding the Meck Dec’s creation. Puckett spent 11 months painting the mural, which serves as an inspiration to other artists to see beyond the weeds and view each crevice as a potential canvas.