COVINGTON -- Local artist Cindy Murphy is the designer of Georgia's Christmas tree ornament for the 2012 National Christmas Tree display in Washington, D.C.
Murphy was selected by Gov. Nathan Deal to design the ornament for Georgia to reflect his chosen theme, "Weekend for Wildlife: Wild Success Stories -- Twenty-Five Years and Counting" to honor the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' 25 years of dedicated work to conserve Georgia's non-gaming wildlife.
Murphy's design incorporates glass, mirror, stones and shells, the American bald eagle, sea turtle, fish and other wildlife, the state name and the number 25.
Murphy enlisted the help of 13 young students of Southern Heartland Art Guild in Covington to create the ornaments. Student participation is a requirement for all state trees featured in the national display. It took a month to craft the 24 ornaments.
"Working with Ms. Cindy to create ornaments that celebrate our great state in such a memorable and creative way has been a wonderful experience," said 17-year-old Jeffery Jones, a student of Southern Heartland Art Guild.
The ornaments have already been completed and shipped to D.C. in preparation for the Dec. 6 tree lighting in President's Park, which Murphy will attend with her sister.
"I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to represent Georgia's culture through my art," said Murphy. "I hope the tree display will convey a little piece of Georgia's unique beauty to our entire nation."
Murphy has a degree in commercial art, but after moving to Newton County, she took a workshop and fell in love with oil painting. She has been an artist for more than 15 years, and in addition to creating mosaics, she is an oil painter best known for her pet portraits. She also hand-crafts wind chimes and jewelry.
Murphy is a founding member of Southern Heartland Art Gallery on the Square in downtown Covington, where her artwork is on display.
The governor became familiar with Murphy's work when last year, she was commissioned by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to create a piece in celebration of the loggerhead sea turtle, an endangered species. She created a glass tile mosaic that was presented to donors at the annual Weekend for Wildlife fundraiser held at Sea Island's Cloister Resort. Gov. Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal were recipients, and the piece now sits in Deal's office.
"I am excited to see Georgia once again take part in this tradition and I am proud of these talented Georgia artists who continue to grow our state's rich culture," said Deal in a press release. "This display will exhibit our state's efforts to save precious wildlife and unite Georgians with the rest of our nation as we celebrate the 2012 holiday season together."
The National Christmas Tree Lighting is one of America's oldest holiday traditions, beginning on Christmas Eve 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge officiated at a lighting for 3,000 spectators in President's Park. The National Park Foundation and National Park Service host month-long, family-oriented attractions to commemorate the tradition.