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Art by South Lenoir senior to honor the CSS Neuse t-shirt

KINSTON, NC (WNCT) – Using her artistic talent, Natalie Dail has made her mark in the long history of the Civil War gunboat CSS Neuse.

The high school student from South Lenoir High School won a competition sponsored by the CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretative Center to create a design for the new Kinston Museum T-shirt.

Museum Site Director Matthew Young and Program Coordinator Rachel Kennedy gave Natalie a gift card and made preliminary arrangements for a personalized tour of the museum for her and her family last week. She will also be recognized on social networks and in a museum publication.

“I was super excited,” Natalie said, remembering the email telling her she won. “It made my day.”

Natalie honed her longtime interest in art through classes at South Lenoir with art teacher Laura Jackson and art classes at Lenoir Community College, where she is taking college courses this year.

Its design greatly simplifies the art on the current museum T-shirt. It features an anchor, nautical rope and a front view of the gunboat, framing all of the words “CSS Civil War Interpretive Center Neuse, Kinston, North Carolina”.

The competition was open to all residents of Lenoir County, but Kennedy insisted that students participate. A committee made up of community members, museum staff and local artists chose the winner.

“When the judges saw his drawing, they all said it was that one,” Kennedy said.

“The idea came from our Programs Coordinator, Rachel Kennedy. She saw all the great things artists do at Kinston, and she wanted to engage a younger audience in a design competition for our new T-shirts. We received several submissions, but the staff and board of the nonprofit arm of the CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center decided to follow Natalie’s design. We are delighted! said Matthew Young, site manager, CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center.

The new T-shirt should be on sale by Christmas, according to Young. It will be available in the museum’s gift shop at 100 N. Queen St.

The CSS Neuse was an armored steam ram of the Confederate States Navy that served in the latter part of the Civil War and was eventually scuttled to avoid capture by Union Army forces advancing on Kinston. The remains of its hull were salvaged from the Neuse in the 1960s and became the centerpiece of a state historic site in 1964. The hull was moved to the Downtown Museum in 2012.


Young says they received around 7 great designs from other artists in the area, but after reviewing them with the CSS Gunboat Association board, Natalie’s was the best choice for a t-shirt.

Natalie Dail says that after researching the museum, she wanted to incorporate CSS Neuse into her design and give it a nautical feel.

She says she is thrilled that people in the community can wear something she has created. The museum hopes to have the t-shirt on sale in its gift shop by the New Year.

“I am really happy to have had this experience and to get to know the people at the museum a little better, and it was a very good opportunity”, Natalie Dail, high school student from South Lenoir.

“I really think the position Kinston finds himself in now, there is a good synergy between art and story and I think the two can really complement each other in the future,” Matthew Young, site manager of the museum.