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Helen Hornberger  Search this
Copper, oil paint
Overall: 12 1/2 in. (31.8 cm)
Stem: 8 1/4 in. (21 cm)
Flower: 4 1/4 in. (10.8 cm)
Artificial flowers and trees
United States
Artist, Helen Hornberger, revived the techniques of French tole to create naturalistic representations of the state flowers. The artist used thin copper sheets as her base, and painted them with oil paint in the natural colors of the blossoms and leaves of the Sunflower (Helianthus annuus). The head of the flower is comprised of closely placed black florets encircled by elongated, yellow petals and shorter, green sepals. The stem has a single broad leaf.
Label Text:
The Congress of Representative Women at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago proposed that each U.S. state and territory select a flower to represent their state in the “National Garland of Flowers.” This resulted in the National Floral Emblem Society. Each state has adopted to represent the state and its people based on their importance to the state’s history, economy, folklore, or native varieties. Tole artist Helen Hornberger created each artificial flower representing each state to create for a bouquet displaying America’s floral diversity.
KANSAS: The Wild Native Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) was designated the official state flower and floral emblem of Kansas in 1903. Despite the fact that a decade earlier the Kansas lawmakers had unsuccessfully called for the eradication of the Sunflower as a “noxious weed,” the 1903 legislation praised the Sunflower as a symbol of the state’s past, present, and future. Sunflowers are an impressive flower, growing up to 9 feet tall with leggy stalks and radiant colors. Though they appear to be individual blossoms, Sunflowers are actually made up of many flowers organized in symmetrical patterns closely clumped together. The head of the flower consists of florets. The outer flowers come in shades of yellow, red, and orange, while the inner flowers, called disc florets are darker. The flowers inside the disc grow in interconnecting spiral patterns and mature into the Sunflower seeds that are used in breads, salads, and as a snack food. Sunflower oil is also used in cooking and as an alternative biodiesel fuel. The Sunflower is both an attractive symbol and a valuable resource. They flourish across the state both in the wild, in gardens, and on commercial farms. Kansas has embraced the Sunflower, and it is also featured on the Kansas quarter and the state flag earning the state’s nickname "The Sunflower State."
copper  Search this
tôle  Search this
Artificial flowers  Search this
crafts  Search this
emblems (symbols)  Search this
flowers (plants)  Search this
Kansas  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection. Gift of Helen Hornberger.
Accession number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens