Sculptor of Borlaug Statue Visiting Des Moines - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Sculptor of Borlaug Statue Visiting Des Moines

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By Alex Schuman


Famous Iowan Dr. Norman Borlaug would have turned 99 Monday, and to celebrate Iowans are getting their first look at the statue of the man who will soon represent them in the U.S. Capitol Building. 

Each state gets two statues in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol.  Iowa's two statues are Samuel Kirkwood and James Harlan.  Harlan, a former senator, will soon be on a trip back to Iowa and will be replaced with Borlaug.

If you go to the State Historical Building this week you will see the chosen design of Dr. Norman Borlaug taking shape in clay. 

Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize for developing a type of wheat less susceptible to droughts, which meant more food for millions.

The sculptor, Benjamin Victor, went through about five models before basing his creation on a photo of Borlaug looking at notebook in a wheat field.

"Oh my gosh, it was months," said Victor about waiting to hear if he won.  "Literally it was all I could think about."

Victor says he has never been so excited about a subject for his sculptures.

"I really, really wanted to do this," he said.

He does not think enough people outside of Iowa even know who Dr. Borlaug is, and hopes his work and its prime location in the U.S. Capitol might teach others.

But Victor tries not to focus on where the statue will stand, and worries more about what it will stand for.

"I try to just get the blinders on and work," he said. "And really try to my best on the piece and let the rest stand where it may."

Victor tries to use his tools to carve out the emotions behind Borlaug and his work; hoping people can connect with the statue as much as they did with the man. 

"That's the type of thing you strive for as an artist in bronze," said Victor. "Especially because it's a media that's gonna out last all of us.  And so you hope to have a subject that's worthy of that and with Borlaug, of course I do have that subject."
You can go see Victor work on this stage of the Borlaug statue at the State Historical Building until Thursday.  He will be located in the Museum's "Saving Our Stuff" exhibition 10 a.m.-noon and 2-4 p.m. Monday- Thursday March 28th.

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