Art Isn’t Nice: Deborah Lawrence
A few years ago, Olympia artist Nikki McClure was invited to do a bird-themed Christmas ornament for the White House. My first thought was “how do I get considered for this art honor” (hey, I am an artist, it is all about me, baby, did you think I was going to say “good for her?!”), along with “eewww, make an X-mas ornament for Bush?” and “hmm, how often do visual artists get recognized at the White House and how can I get on that invite list?” Now that President-elect Obama will be there, I really really want to be asked to create an ornament for the White House tree. Maybe there will be a “green” theme, or even just a good old recycled art theme, in which case, Ruby Re-Usable would be golden, right?!
Anyways, while I was mulling about how I would make an appropriate environmental statement while slipping in a sly reference to Hanukkah with my future X-mas ornament, Seattle recycled artist Deborah Lawrence made a political statement with her red, white and blue-themed ornament. You can read all about the controversy that it has stirred up HERE and HERE and HERE
Reading some of the vitriolic comments, one would think that Dee Dee drew an insulting cartoon depiction of Mohamed, rather than doing what she always does, which is to create visual art with a strong and heartfelt message.
In fact, King County Art Commission’s Heather Dwyer stated that she chose Lawrence because she wasn’t looking for somebody who would blandly decorate an ornament. She was thinking about artists, not illustrators. “I suggested her because of her social engagement — feminism, anti-war, anti-poverty — and knew she’d think of it as an opportunity.” In other words, Art Isn’t Nice
Meanwhile, Bremerton’s Amy Burnett has an ornament still hanging on the White House tree. How nice.
P-I art critic Regina Hackett at Art to Go has posted MORE about our hero Deborah Lawrence HERE
Susan Platt weighs in HERE
Ken Schram might have given her a Schrammie , but Keith Olberman gave her a shout out yesterday (alas, could not find a link)
See what ornaments are on this year’s White House Christmas Tree HERE
Interesting. I didnâ€™t know that the White House reaches out to artists to create ornaments for the nationâ€™s first tree. Something to look into. Never considered â€œhow often do visual artists get recognized at the White House?â€ Certainly our nationâ€™s capitol is full of art. I like Amy Burnettâ€™s ornament. Also impressed that King County has an Art Commission.
PS. Just saw your link to the White House Christmas Tree. Cool!
I would have loved to have had the opportunity to do an ornament for the white house tree and have it on my resume.
The Stranger has posted about this: Dominic Holden wrote a fiery piece in response to a Seattle Times editorial condemning Lawrence’s X-mas ball. wow
wonder if the future First Lady will invite artists from across the country to create X-mas ornaments again, or if this has been too much controversy?
wonder what the theme will be, and wonder how they will choose the artists, and still wondering how to get on the invitation list …
Les Sterling photographed Deborah Lawrence’s X-mas ornament and posted it on flickr HERE
another interesting article about Deborah Lawrence’s article at Salon HERE
AND an article in the Seattle P-I about the ornaments from Washington State that remain on the White House X-mas tree, including Marita Dingus (!) HERE ; no pic of Marita’s X-mas ball in the article, but the story about the ornament by Rep. Dave Reichert’s 35 year old daughter, Angela Mathena, upsets me for so many reasons: first off, why doesn’t that Republican congressman understand that nepotism and cronyism is NOT a good thing — he has a chance to honor an artist from his district and he gives it to his daughter instead, and then she is supposed to be creating an ornament that represents Washington State but makes something that is all about the blood of Christ and other downer Christian symbols (this is supposed to be a Christmas tree, not an Easter tree, get with the merry and Happy Birthday Baby Jesus and ho-ho-ho), and to top it all off, the thing is just pathetically ugly, like an elementary school torn paper mosaic project by an uninspired and untalented student.
Ruby, this is awesome, thank you for writing it up. I cross posted it over on Olympia Standard.
Hi Ruby. Great commentary. I’ll be in touch. Susan
found another interesting post about Deborah Lawrence’s ornament, this one linking it to the displays in Washington State’s Capitol Building here in Olympia
NEW! download a paper copy of Deborah Lawrence’s ornament at Dee Dee Does Xmas