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Arts Commission News

For Immediate Release

Contact: Melia Dicker, Communications Director (mdicker@arts.ms.gov / 601-862-4886)

MAC Artist’s Ornaments Featured in National Christmas Tree Display in Washington, D.C.


Elaine Maisel with her handcrafted ornaments

JACKSON, MISS. – November 30, 2016 – Handcrafted ornaments by Ridgeland-based artist Elaine Maisel will be featured in the 2016 National Christmas Tree display, called America Celebrates: Ornaments from across the USA. Maisel, a member of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi, Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) Roster artist and member of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, was selected by MAC to represent Mississippi for the 94th annual display.

Maisel’s ornaments will adorn one of the 56 trees representing each U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia from December 1, 2016 through January 1, 2017. The trees form the Pathway of Peace, a walkway open to the public that surrounds the National Christmas Tree at the Ellipse at President's Park, south of the White House in Washington, D.C. During the month of December last year, the National Christmas Tree site saw more than 250,000 visitors.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will officially light the National Christmas Tree on Thursday at the annual ceremony. Eva Longoria will host the star-studded event, and James Taylor, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, The Lumineers, Marc Anthony, Chance the Rapper, Afro Blue, the Airmen of Note, Yolanda Adams, and Kelly Clarkson will perform a selection of holiday music. Through a partnership with the National Park Foundation, the Hallmark Channel will exclusively broadcast the National Christmas Tree Lighting on December 5.

In July, the National Park Service invited MAC to select an artist to submit 12 ornaments for the national display. Maisel was chosen for her outstanding artistic talent and longstanding commitment to advancing the arts in Mississippi.

"Elaine represents the best of Mississippi's creative and inventive spirit,” said Malcolm White, executive director of MAC. “She showcases both a joyful and serious dedication to art and making.”

Maisel’s ornaments showcase birds native to Mississippi. Each of her ornaments contains a wing feather from a Mississippi eastern wild turkey, on which she has painted one of twelve different birds that frequent her neighborhood near the Natchez Trace Parkway. Maisel utilizes the resources of Mississippi to create her art, sourcing feathers from small family farms, parrot owners, and local turkey hunters. She maintains the natural beauty of each feather, enhancing it with her design.

“I’m honored to be a part of this project and hope that my painted feathers will bring awareness to the wonderful wildlife that lives in our state, and to the National Park Service, which maintains the Natchez Trace Parkway, a jewel that runs through our city and our state,” said Maisel.

"Presented by the National Park Service and National Park Foundation, the National Christmas Tree Lighting is one of America’s oldest and most beloved holiday traditions. The first National Christmas Tree lighting took place on Christmas Eve in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit a 48-foot fir tree decorated with 2,500 electric bulbs in front of 3,000 spectators on the Ellipse. Since that day, each succeeding president has carried on the tradition, which continues to bring Americans together in hope and peace.

Maisel has been involved with the Mississippi Arts Commission in a number of ways since 2007. She is currently featured on the Mississippi Artist Roster, a juried directory of artists around the state who have shown mastery of their discipline and quality of work. She also acts as State Coordinator for the Carnegie Hall Link Up Program, which pairs orchestras with students in grades three through five to explore orchestral repertoire through a hands-on music curriculum. Through her involvement with MAC, Maisel has taught music to special education classes and summer Craft Camp workshops at the Mississippi Craftsmen’s Guild. She will also be a Visiting Artist at the Mississippi Children’s Museum in February, teaching workshops in dance, music, and art.

"I’ve received excellent training from MAC over the years, ranging from workshops on keeping financial records as an independent artist, to understanding how to teach teachers to use the arts in all core subjects, to how to work specifically with special education students,” said Maisel. “MAC supports arts organizations like the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra and the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi, two groups that I consider not only central to my work life, but that I call family."

Find Maisel’s art at www.elainemaisel.com and on Facebook at FeatherMore.

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The Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) is a state agency serving more than two million people through grants and special initiatives that enhance communities, assist artists and arts organizations, promote arts education and celebrate Mississippi’s cultural heritage. MAC is funded by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mississippi Endowment for the Arts at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson and other private sources. For more information, visit www.arts.ms.gov.

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