Both the White House and Vice President's residence occupy an interesting secondary role to the American people. Not only do they serve as the residences for our current national executives while in office, they also serve as repositories, or archives, of a plethora of incredible items that belong to the American people as a whole, regardless of who occupies those executive branch offices. Examples of this are many and varied - antique furniture, historic portraits, and yes, even unique signature dishes.
This month, on March 16-17, you have the rare opportunity to see a beautiful, hand painted collection of signature porcelain dishes that have been created specifically for the permanent china collection of the Vice President's Residence Foundation. Indiana's porcelain artists have been hard at work for months creating these gorgeous plates, themed around the state flowers of all 50 states.
These are the same talented artists who bring us the annual Porcelain Art School of Indiana, which takes place at the Morgan County Fairgrounds in Martinsville and is also open to visitors. Thanks to a relationship developed with Karen Pence during her tenure as First Lady of Indiana, they were asked to create this new addition to the residence's china collections.
Martinsville's own Ellen Wilson Pruitt, one of the resident artists at the Art Sanctuary of Indiana, is the project organizer and a participating artist involved with the project. The group has previously done two similar projects - they created a set of china for the Indiana's Governor's mansion featuring Indiana wildflowers during Governor Frank O'Bannon's administration. Mrs. Pence loved that set so much, she approached the group during her husband's administration as Governor to create 150 presentation bowls featuring the Indiana state flower for her First Ladies Charitable Foundation.
There are 100 plates in the collection - two for each state. Each has been hand painted in a painstaking process that involves multiple kiln firings and great attention to detail. A total of 39 artists participated in painting the 100 reception dessert plates with the 50 state flowers. The artists were juried in by the public by voting on a china painting exhibit at the 2017 Indiana State Fair. Each artist painted two identical plates (with a few artists painting more than one set). The plates being used are companion pattern plates to the current Vice Presidential service made by Lenox. This service was ordered during Vice President Joe Biden's term at the residence.
The Vice Presidential Plate Project Preview Reception will be held at the Art Sanctuary of Indiana in downtown Martinsville. Many of the participating artists will be in attendance and there will be hand painted porcelain pieces for sale. In addition, resident artists from the Art Sanctuary will have artwork on display that feature some of the state flowers depicted on the plates. The public is encouraged to come view this national treasure during the official reception on March 16 from 6 to 9 pm. Those unable to attend Friday evening's event can still view the exhibit on March 17 from 11 am to 4 pm. Admission is free on both days. This will be the only public exhibit of the plates prior to arriving at their permanent home in Washington, DC, so you won't want to miss it!