The White House China is a series of photographic and mixed media reconstructions based on the collection of dinnerware at the presidential residence in Washington, D.C.
Aiming to correct certain historic omissions, I began this project in the spring of 2016 to explore the iconography and incongruity of an America established through violent conquest yet framed by elegant theory and language. A country once perceived as a beacon for democracy has at its root, the constant struggle for social justice amid the backdrop of racism. Embedded in a patriotic narrative, the rise and economic glory of the United States was fueled by the eradication of indigenous people, the enslavement of Africans and the exploitation of natural resources. The White House was no exception to this opportunism.
These recreations look at presidential contradictions and pivotal judgements made throughout our national story. My intent is to shine a light on often-destructive events which happened by decision or neglect within each Presidential administration, providing a stark contrast to the assumption of civilization and culture set around historic dining tables.
Depictions of presidential china are based on the official state china collections of the presidents they represent or that of their predecessors. For all the inhabitants of the White House, the china was emblematic of the grandeur of the office of president intended to reflect the greatness of the United States.
Kathleen Y. Clark