Indiana artists will have a chance to make their mark on history this year as around 40 artists from around the state will have a chance to paint china for the official residence of the Vice President, known as Number One Observatory Circle.
The artists from the Indiana World Organization of China Painters will each get to paint a state flower from the 50 states onto 100 pieces of china for a collection to be used for receptions at the residence.
Ellen Wilson-Pruitt, who is the president of the Indiana World Organization of China Painters and has a studio at the Art Sanctuary, 190 N. Sycamore St., Martinsville, said she contacted second lady Karen Pence with the idea.
Previously, artists from the organization painted pieces of china for Pence’s Indiana First Lady’s Charitable Foundation.
For that project, artists painted 150 bowls with peonies, the official state flower of Indiana.
The organization first came to the attention of Pence when they previously presented a set of china to former Indiana first lady Judy O’Bannon in 2001.
According to Wilson-Pruitt, a kickoff event will take place at the Art Sanctuary where the artists will come and receive their china, instructions and designs for the art.
Each artist will randomly draw a state name and that artist will be tasked with creating the state’s flower on the china.
Then, after the artists have completed their task, they will return to the Art Sanctuary so the public can have a chance to view the china before it is sent to Washington, D.C.
“We are excited about being part of the permanent collection,” Wilson-Pruitt said.
While each plate will be unique to the artist, there will be some continuity in each piece.
For now, there is no official target date for artists to have their piece of art done, but Wilson-Pruitt said she would like the Pence family to have the china by the Christmas season.
Right now, they are waiting on the plates to arrive from Lenox, which has provided official White House china since the Woodrow Wilson administration.
The current china at the Vice President’s residence is from Joe Biden’s time living in the house.
Wilson-Pruitt said the Art Sanctuary is a great place to showcase the collection to the public.
The organization is a state-wide group with members ranging from southern Indiana to Fort Wayne and Kokomo in the north.
On Aug. 11, Pence visited the Indiana State Fair to view art displayed by members of the organization who are competing for a chance to paint the art for the china.
With around 40 artists participating in the project, some of the painters will have to paint more than one state.
Wilson-Pruitt said during the first week of the state fair this year, visitors could choose their favorite artists and the top 10 or so will have the opportunity to make more than one piece.
The public, according to Wilson-Pruitt, are excited that art from the state of Indiana will have such a prominent role in the nation’s history.
While this china will be part of the Vice President’s china set, Indiana does have a history with the White House china’s set.
According to Wilson-Pruitt, the first official china set in the White House came during the administration of Benjamin Harrison, the only president from Indiana at the time of his election.
Harrison’s wife, Caroline, was herself a skilled artist and hosted china painting courses in the White House.
Wilson-Pruitt said that, as of now, she does not know when the public viewing for the pieces will take place.