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USD Art Students Hand Craft Ornaments for White House Tree

Ornament Photo Two USD students designed ornaments that showcase South Dakota's landscape for the 94th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting display.

VERMILLION, S.D. – Ornaments designed by USD student artists will dazzle President’s Park in Washington, D.C. as part of the 94th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting display at the White House. Student Art Alliance, a University of South Dakota student organization, was chosen to represent South Dakota.

Epiphany Knedler and Sophia Wermers from Vermillion, South Dakota, designed ornaments that showcase South Dakota’s landscapes. The hand crafted ornaments will adorn one of 56 trees representing each U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia from Dec. 1 through Jan. 1, 2017 as part of the “America Celebrates” display.

“We are honored to be representing South Dakota and the National Parks Service,” said Epiphany Knedler, president of the Student Art Alliance. “It has been exciting to visually represent South Dakota’s unique landscape on both sides of the river.”

USD’s Student Art Alliance is comprised of a variety of students interested in fine arts. The USD students join local artists from each state, territory and the District of Columbia in designing ornaments for the National Christmas Tree. The 94th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting will be Monday, Dec. 5.


USD's College of Fine Arts encourages students to pursue their chosen professional field in art, music or theater through their study with nationally recognized faculty who are working professionals. Students learn and grow to be professional fine artists with great job potential anywhere in the country. The college offers opportunities for additional real-world experiences through work with guest artists, study tours abroad and opportunities at the National Music Museum and the University Art Galleries on the Vermillion campus and the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park. The college brings more than 80 guests artists to campus annually to work with students.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.