Visual Arts

Cedar City Art Decorates National Christmas Tree

Hayden Gunter holds a handmade decoration destined for the Utah tree.

For almost a century the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in President’s Park in Washington, D.C., has been a part of the American holiday tradition, and this year, as part of the 95th Tree Lighting display, works from Cedar City students are joining the celebration.

The first lighting took place in 1923 when President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas tree in front of 3,000 spectators on Christmas Eve. Each successive president has continued the tradition and this year 56 trees were lit to represent each state and territory, including the District of Columbia.

Alisa Petersen, Beverley Taylor Sorenson Endowed Chair of Elementary Art Education at Southern Utah University, was chosen to create an initial design for the Utah project, which was executed by middle-school and high-school students in the Cedar City area.  Working together under the direction of Peterson, the students used colors and textures found in nature to paint sheets of Tyvek — the insulation panels you’ll often see wrapping a house under construction — before cutting them up into individual decorations.

“I enjoyed having the opportunity to work with these amazing students,” said Petersen. “They enthusiastically created artwork that beautifully captures the essence of the Utah landscape we love so much.”

The trees will be on display through Jan. 1 as part of the America Celebrates display. For more event information and updates, visit

Categories: Visual Arts

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