Handcrafted ornaments by Ridgeland artist Elaine Maisel will be featured on the Mississippi tree in the 2016 National Christmas Tree display, the Mississippi Arts Commission announced Wednesday.

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 the arts commission to represent Mississippi in the 94th annual display during the month of December, the commission said in a press release.

Artist Elaine Maisel with her handcrafted ornaments that will adorn the Mississippi tree at the National Christmas Tree display in Washington, D.C.
Artist Elaine Maisel with her handcrafted ornaments that will adorn the Mississippi tree at the National Christmas Tree display in Washington, D.C. Credit: Mississippi Arts Commission

The display of trees and ornaments from each state, territory and the District of Columbia is called America Celebrates: Ornaments from across the USA. The trees form the Pathway of Peace a walkway  that surrounds the National Christmas Tree at the Ellipse, south of the White House. The annual display attracted more than 250,000 visitors last year, the press release said.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will officially light the National Christmas Tree on Thursday at the annual ceremony.

In July, the National Park Service invited the Mississippi Arts Commission 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, the commission said in its release.

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

 The press release said that Maisel’s ornaments depict 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, the release said.

 “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.

Maisel has been involved with the Mississippi Arts Commission 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, the release said. Through her involvement with MAC, Maisel has taught music to special education classes, and summer Craft Camp workshops at the Mississippi Craftsmen’s Guild.

Maisel will be a Visiting Artist at the Mississippi Children’s Museum in February, teaching workshops in dance, music, and art.

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

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