The Obama’s hang a Ruscha, and set a new precedent for modern art in the White House

The Obama’s have ‘highly sophisticated’ taste in art, according to New York private art dealer Richard Feigen. Beginning even before the inauguration, they began amassing an impressive collection of modern, avant-garde and intrinsically American pieces, some of which have only been delivered in the past week.

I think this Ruscha works so well for the White House… a million thoughts passing by at lightning speed.

The President and First Lady have actively been developing the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, which focuses on cultural diplomacy, preservation, and provides awards for talented creative youth in America. After seeing the list of artists the Obama’s plan to decorate their living space with, I have a feeling that they will take the arts in America in a very new direction.

Most striking to me in this story is a piece of pottery sitting on bookshelf in the Oval Office. The artist, 69-year old Native American Jeri Redcorn, has been creating pottery using the same techniques her Caddo ancestors have been using for 500 years. She started jumping up and down and screaming when she heard that her pottery was in the White House. She considers it “a bridge, and a reaching out to other cultures… To have this artwork in the Oval Office is like a beautiful tribute to the way that my ancestors did things.”


Courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. Jeri Redcorn’s pot is named “Taysha,” the Caddo word for fried. The Caddo also used it for people they hadn’t met, she said. They referred to the Spanish by that name, and the Spanish, hearing the sound as an “x,” made the word “Texas,” she said. (side note: this is not the specific pot in the White House)

Also on loan to the White House are a trio of patent models from the National Museum of American History. Now adorning the shelves of the Oval Office are Samuel Morse’s 1849 telegraph register, a gear-cutting machine and a paddlewheel for a steamboat. These items represent the core American values of hard work and ingenuity, and create an atmosphere of respect for the past while at the same time looking towards the future. Past inventions give people living now clues to problems of today, and foreign diplomats and other visitors to the White House probably appreciate these items as a glimpse into American history.

Published by Elizabeth Pizzuti

Design, art, and cats mostly

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