Four wildflower ornaments; M. Doctrow, T. Webb, M. Simpson, and A. Abbott

Four wildflower ornaments; M. Doctrow, T. Webb, M. Simpson, and A. Abbott

Ornaments by local Florida artists dazzle President’s Park at the White House in Washington, D.C. as part of the 94th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting display. Mollie Doctrow and art students from South Florida State College–Ann-Louise Abbott, Missy Simpson, Leighton Skipper, and Taylor Webb–designed ornaments that showcase Florida native wildflowers. The hand-crafted ornaments adorn one of 56 trees representing each U.S. state, territory, and the District of Columbia through Jan. 1, 2017 as part of the America Celebrates display. The National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony took place on Dec. 1.

“It is an honor to decorate my home state tree and help the nation celebrate the holidays in one of our most recognizable national parks,” said Mollie Doctrow, artist/printmaker and Curator Emerita of SFSC’s Museum of Florida Art and Culture (MOFAC). “We are excited to be a part of the America Celebrates display because we have an opportunity to highlight the beauty of Florida native wildflowers.”

Inspired by the variety and diversity of Florida wildflowers the artists created drawings from original photographs. The drawings were carved into clay tiles, kiln fired and glazed. Flowers represented on the ceramic tile ornaments include Sky Blue Lupine, Spiderwort, Prickly Pear, Fetterbush, Pine Lily, Ashe’s Wild Savory, Scrub Mint, and Honeycomb-head.

“The Florida Division of Cultural Affairs called me and asked if I was interested in designing the ornament,” said Doctrow. “Each year, a Florida artist is invited to design the ornament. Sometimes the artist works as an individual artist or they can choose to work with a group. This year the National Christmas Tree ornaments from the states was coordinated by the National Parks. Because of my work with the parks and the Wayside Shrine Trail, FDCA thought of me. I selected the Florida native wildflower theme and everyone liked the idea.”

Honeycomb-head Ornament, A. Abbott

Honeycomb-head Ornament, A. Abbott

“The students and I started working on the ornaments at the beginning of the semester, at the end of August,” she said. “We finished the project in mid-October. We spent about 120 hours on the project.”

Presented by the National Park Service and National Park Foundation, the National Christmas Tree Lighting is one of America’s oldest holiday traditions. The first National Christmas Tree lighting took place 94 years ago on Christmas Eve in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas tree in front of 3,000 spectators on the Ellipse. Since 1923, each succeeding president has carried on the tradition.