Monday, December 13, 2010

SCAD Decorates Blue Room Tree at the White House

I have been on the verge of bursting with excitement over SCAD's contribution to the White House Christmas decor this year! Kyle Millsap and I were incredibly honored to be chosen to go to the White House and decorate the Blue Room Christmas tree. (Thank you Kari Herrin, SCAD vice president of creative direction!) We were also asked to come up with "filler" to complement humorous felt ornaments and 4-H fair-like award ribbons by students and alumni of SCAD. We set off on our directive immediately in an all-nighter escapade that found us down right giddy and shamelessly patriotic as we hand-painted felt flags (all 50 states plus the six territories) and hand-stamped vintage books to add to an already over-the-top breathtaking tree. Meanwhile, at another SCAD location, there were several SCAD artists including the director of SCAD's Working Class Studio, Jonathan Osborne, sewing away to complete all the decorations in time to be sent to the White House. Jonathan collaborated this entire project with SCAD alum Clint Withers of Event Architects in only a few short weeks. He met with students and alumni to brainstorm a winning concept for the tree, then wrote up this beautiful statement (below) summarizing the inspiration of this SCAD artist collaboration. He even sent us to D.C. with a delightful calliope music mix to serve as the soundtrack in the Blue Room—a room that was so endearing I immediately felt as though I had been transported back in time to an old fashioned fair...

Well, enough of my ramblings. Please check out the official tree inspiration statement along with credits for all artists involved and more than a few pics of us putting the tree together and close-ups of ornaments. Again, I am so thankful to be at SCAD. It has to be one of the most magical places on earth! Who knew we would be headed to the White House!

American Majesty:
Celebrating Our Nation’s Prized Resources
Official White House SCAD Blue Room Tree 2010

Designed and handcrafted by students and alumni 
this collection of holiday tree elements celebrates
the rich culture, proud heritage and native beauty of the United States
and is inspired by the nostalgic Americana of our nation’s storied state
and county fairs.

The ornaments highlight the country’s abundant and diverse agricultural
resources and emphasize the nutritional value of locally harvested foods
and their significant impact on our states’ and territories’ local
economies. The collection is a fitting homage to First Lady Michelle
Obama’s profound and ongoing efforts to educate Americans on the
importance of a healthy diet.

Fifty-six hand painted pennant-styled flags representing the states and
territories also adorn the tree and exude a festive air of patriotism
and celebration.

The broad skirt encircling the base of the towering tree is embroidered
with the lyrics of “America the Beautiful” and symbolically connects and
unifies each state and territory together as one. 

The felt ornaments were designed by Erica Dwyer, undergraduate student in fibers,
Fairfax, California, natural felt, organic cotton, thread, 2010.

The rosette prize ribbons were conceived by Holly Sexton, undergraduate student
in fibers, Salisbury, North Carolina, silk satin, paper, 2010.

The pennant flags were illustrated and painted by Kyle Millsap, B.F.A.,
illustration, 2006, Warrensburg, Missouri, felt, paint, 2010.
 Rosette ribbon button illustrations by Kay Wolfersperger (B.F.A., 
graphic design; B.F.A., fibers) 
 Wisconsin cheese felt ornament- so cute!

The tree skirt was designed by Michael-Birch Pierce, graduate student in fibers,
Richmond, Virginia, natural felt, thread, 2010.

Wheat bursts in progress!

I love the way our topper of wheat bursts turned out!
The White House camera in the window automatically took a picture of the room every 20 seconds!
Vintage books hand-stamped with words to President Obama's fave song “America The Beautiful.”
Fabulous HGTV star, Genevieve, conducting an interview with White House florist for Christmas special.

Kyle Millsap reminiscing over the phenomenal tree.
Haha…this is me doing the same!
The sky was so beautiful that night as we left, all dappled in blue like it was painted just for us. Kyle and I were in bliss from the whole experience.

It was awesome to have two especially great volunteers help us execute the vision of the SCAD tree. I want to take this little space to thank them for their contribution! Thanks Dreama (yes, she was a dream!) Vecellio and Alex Dudik. You guys rock!

White House volunteer Dreama Vecellio
White House volunteer Alex Dudik

Jonathan Ashley Osborne, Director of Working Class Studio

Kyle Millsap beaming with patriotism!

Amy Zurcher (me) looking crazy in front of the tree—it was a loooong day!
Kyle looking chic
Last stop, Kyle and I ran back to the hotel to grab our bags and fly to Atlanta. The next morning we hit the ground running to put together shopSCAD Pop Up in two days!  

Pop Up!


Just Barb said...

WOW! What an amazing opportunity! And those ornaments are so beautiful!! Great job!

Coastal Belle said...

Wonderful! Great job team!!

Katy said...

Love it!! You guys are awesome.

claire teschel said...

very cool! the tree looks fantastic:)

Katie Runnels said...

what an incredible and patriotic creation you came up with for such a terrific honor! hang some of those prize ribbons on you!

pamma said...

so glad you got photos!
LOVED seeing the tree... gorgeous. Inspired!

ola appletea said...

great!!! congrats!

hkpowerstudio said...

What a dreamy project. Congrats,so well done. Wish we could have organized an alumni meetup while you were in town but it looks like it was a total whirl wind!

Marilyn R Miller said...

Wonderful! Thank you for posting this! Each year I try to find out about what has been done with the Blue Room Tree because I was a small part of it in 2007. It was truly one of the highlights of my little life!

I am glad the Obama administration is still including artists!

Congratulations! Wish I had been with you!

sallyrae said...

WOW! I just came across this somehow. Congratulations Miss Amy and friends. What an honor and what an awesome tree. A fantastic experience for sure!