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December 19, 2001

Illinois Artisans Featured in Christmas Displays at The White House and Nixon Library

CHICAGO -- First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan today announced that five Illinois artisans have been selected to create ornaments on behalf of Illinois for display on Christmas Trees at the White House and Nixon Library.

The Illinois Artisans Program recommended Ms. Karenlee Spencer of Charleston, Ms. Mary Hackett of Carterville, Ms. Kathryn Gemperle of Chicago, Ms. Martha Ferguson of Cobden and Mr. Thomas Norpell of Montgomery to participate in these displays. These artists represent the diverse regions of the state and the artwork native to Illinois. The Artisans Program, administered by the Illinois State Museum focuses national attention on the rich heritage of Illinois.

As Illinois’ First Lady, Mrs. Ryan has been instrumental in the promotion of artisans and the success of the Illinois Artisans Program. She has worked diligently to preserve these cultural treasures that lie at the heart of Illinois.

“Illinois artisans and craftspeople not only create beautiful works, but they also generate a wonderful environment of cultural development, drawing interest and tourists to their communities,” Mrs. Ryan said.

Ms. Spencer, featured in the artisan’s gallery “Made in Illinois”, was selected to design an ornament for the States of America Christmas Tree on display at the Richard Nixon Library. Her handcrafted gourd figurine of an angel holding a cardinal reflects the holiday spirit here in Illinois.

Ms. Hackett, Ms. Gemperle, Ms. Ferguson and Mr. Norpell created ornaments capturing the White House theme At Home for the Holidays. Among the Illinois ornaments displayed are replicas of the Pierre Menard home- the home of the First Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, the Henry B. Clark House- the oldest home in the city of Chicago, a house created by Buckminster Fuller- a key architectural innovator of the 20th century and the former Springfield home of President and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln.

Mrs. Ryan has devoted her efforts to safeguard the history of Illinois, preserving it to be enjoyed by future generations. "Made in Illinois" demonstrates the excellence and originality of the crafts of this state. Mrs. Ryan first sponsored this publication as a gift guide in 1988 when Governor Ryan was then Lieutenant Governor. This artisan gallery describes the state’s wide variety of terrain and natural features that serve not only as a home, but also as an inspiration to these artists. By bringing these locations and artists together in one publication, “Made in Illinois” can be used to chart destinations for the best crafts as well as locations of interest.

The annual Illinois State Fairs in Springfield and DuQuoin provide unique opportunities to watch Illinois artisans demonstrate their traditional arts and crafts. Members of the Illinois Artisans Program are featured each day of the fair demonstrating a variety of crafting techniques.

“This wonderful exhibit is a natural extension of the “Made in Illinois” gift catalog, as well as our continued efforts to preserve the state’s rich history and culture by promoting Illinois arts and crafts,” Mrs. Ryan said.


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