Seattle artist, Deborah Lawrence, was one of 370 artists who were given the honor of creating a Christmas ornament for the White House’s official Christmas trees. This was after Laura Bush invited all 435 Congresscritters to choose artists from their congressional district to design ornaments for the White House Christmas trees. Unfortunately, Lawrence’s 9-inch ball was the only one that was banned from the White House trees, even though it fulfilled all the requirements set out by the committee.
“The White House specifically stated that the artists were to have the freedom to produce what they wanted within the theme of red, white and blue, and couldn’t show it to anybody before it was shown at the White House,” said Jim Kelly, executive director of the King County Arts Commission, known as 4Culture. Lawrence was chosen after her name was suggested by Heather Dwyer, 4Culture program manager.
Dwyer said 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.”
What was so offensive about this particular ornament? If you look closely at the above image, you’ll notice that it features a picture of Washington State congressman, Jim McDermott, who proposed impeaching GW. In addition to McDermott’s image, you’ll notice that the ornament also includes glued-on text that supports McDermott’s impeachment resolution.
“I think it really is a shame and, quite frankly, not very much in the holiday spirit,” stated first lady Laura Bush’s spokeswoman, Sally McDonough.
Hrm, apparently, McDonough doesn’t support our constitutional right to freedom of speech, either.
But this should not have been a surprise to anyone who knows Lawrence’s work.
“Her work is all about social justice,” said Catherine Person, who exhibits Lawrence’s work at Person Gallery in Seattle. “She’s the most political artist I know and the most political artist I represent by 100 miles. She’s a firebrand. Her last show in September was completely devoted to anti-Bush statements.”
Interestingly, all 370 artists, including Lawrence, who sent ornaments to the White House were invited to a party yesterday to see their ornaments on a cluster of trees on the White House lawn.
“I was afraid I’d be blocked at the door,” said an obviously pleased Lawrence, “but here I am. … There are platters of roast beef, soft drinks and white wine, with a duet of pianists playing Christmas music.”
It’s a good thing that Lawrence did not wear any clothing bearing her political sentiments, or she might have been banned from the party herself.
When asked whether her political positions might have been better left off the Christmas ornament, Lawrence responded: “When else would I get a chance to do it at the White House? I’m happy (Barack) Obama is going to be president, but we have to hold Bush and (Vice President Dick) Cheney responsible for heinous crimes. If Bush shows up to this event, I’ll tell him that. If Laura Bush comes, I’ll say, ‘I bet you’re glad the last eight years are almost over.’ ”
Of course, Lawrence’s ornament would have been nearly impossible for anyone with normal eyesight to see anyway.
“Even if my ornament were still here, I wouldn’t be able to find it,” observed Lawrence. “There are too many. I’d like to get it back, but that’s probably not going to happen. I’ve never seen so many Christmas trees, and I don’t like Christmas.”
Offensive Christmas Ornament held by its creator, Seattle artist, Deborah Lawrence.
Image courtesy of Deborah Lawrence.
Seattle PI (quotes).