Eminence artist Jennifer Dodson has handcrafted 12 Christmas ornaments that represent Missouri on the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., as part of the 95th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Nov. 30.
Dodson is a retired school teacher and works part-time at the post office in Fremont, Mo. She also paints Christmas ornaments in her free time.
She volunteers at Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) and does several crafty and artistic things for the park, which is why the ONSR nominated her to design the ornaments.
“When they first asked me, I thought I wasn’t good enough. I looked at myself as a teacher first instead of an artist,” said Dodson.
“I actually made a C in my painting class and I shoved my work under my bed. I now realize it wasn’t that they were bad, it was just personal preference. Because mine didn’t look like theirs I thought it was trashed, but it was good.”
Dodson designed the ornaments to showcase historic structures from national parks and historic sites in Missouri, with an emphasis on the ONSR.
“Historic structures have always fascinated me,” said Dodson.
When she first started making ornaments, she was taking over for her daughter who made personalized snowmen for people.
Dodson creates ornaments of snowmen, historic structures, homesteads, and housewarming ornaments of a family home.
The 12 ornaments will be on one of the 56 trees representing each U.S. state, territory, and the District of Columbia from Dec. 1 through Jan. 1, 2018, in Washington, D.C.
“It is such an honor to decorate my home state tree and help the nation celebrate the holidays in one of our most recognizable national parks. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Dodson.
Dodson said she chose to paint historic structures because they have stood the test of time and have great cultural significance, each with its own story.
The Eminence area was devastated by record flooding in April and Dodson wanted to bring awareness to the recovery the community has made.
“I wanted to celebrate the spirit of recovery and resilience that has been demonstrated by the people of our area and convey the message that although we have been bruised a bit, we are alive and ready for visitors,” said Dodson.