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A close-up of Kay Barnebey's ornament, depicting the Ridley turtle's "cycle of life."
Friday, November 30th, 2007
Kay Barnebey designs Christmas ornament for White House Christmas Tree



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Representatives from Padre Island National Seashore stand with Kay Barnebey on Saturday, Dec 8 at Rockport Center for the Arts.

Kay Barnebey, a Rockport artist known for her paintings of sea turtles, was selected by Padre Island National Seashore to illustrate a Christmas ornament to hang on the White House Blue Room Christmas Tree.  

The theme for this year’s tree is National Parks. Each unit in the Park system was invited to select an artist to present the most recognizable feature of their park. 

Barnebey chose to create a “cycle of life” representation of the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle. 

Depicting the hatchlings overlaying the adults, the ball’s natural golden light is left at the top graduating to cooler, deeper blues at the bottom around the adults. From a distance, the adults appear as continents surrounded by oceans as seen from outer space.

She attended a White House reception hosted by First Lady Laura Bush on November 28th, the day the  Blue Room Christmas tree was unveiled to the public. Once the Christmas tree is taken down, Barnebey’s ornament becomes a part of the White House’s permanent art collection.

See Corpus Christi Daily article


Padre Island National Seashore is the most important Kemp’s Ridley nesting beach in the U.S. 

Each year teams from the turtle recovery program retrieve the newly laid eggs and incubate them so that more Ridleys will have a chance of survival.  During the summer the Park releases the hatchlings, which turn toward the light and begin their march to the sea. The few turtles that survive will return to their birthplace to deposit their ping pong-sized eggs in the sand.