Work on Borlaug Statue in Progress

By Rod Boshart, Reporter

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By Katie Stinson

DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowans are getting a glimpse of a statue in the making at the State Historical Building.

Work is in progress on a seven-foot statue of Dr. Norman Borlaug being created by South Dakota artist Benjamin Victor that eventually will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

“This is just a perfect likeness. You’ve captured him, you really have,” U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, told Victor during a news conference held Monday to display the cast form of the eventual bronze statue depicting Borlaug in work clothes and hat standing with swaying wheat plants behind him.

The Borlaug Statue Committee, which selected the artist and is raising up to $220,000 for the project, has the goal of installing the Borlaug statue in the U.S. Capitol building on March 25, 2014 -- the centennial observance of Borlaug's birth.

The Borlaug statue will be one of two statues depicting notable citizens from Iowa and will replace the statue of U.S. Sen. James Harlan, which will be returned to Iowa. The second statue representing Iowa is of Gov. Samuel Kirkwood.

Gov. Terry Branstad commemorated Borlaug's 99th birthday by highlighting the statue and praising the late Nobel Peace Prize winner for his development of miracle wheat that is credited with saving an estimated billion people around the world from hunger and starvation.

"With the creation of the Dr. Borlaug statue, we are seeing history in the making," added Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I would like to thank the artist, Benjamin Victor, for sharing his tremendous talent with us to be enjoyed by the future visitors to the U.S. Capitol.”

U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who also attended Monday’s event, said he looked forward to the day the Borlaug statue of a man who “stands larger than life over the whole world” stands in the nation’s Capitol.

Paul Schickler, president of DuPont Pioneer, which -- along with an anonymous donor – donated money for the project, said he hoped the image of a man who led the green revolution through his innovation and contribution to applied science and agriculture would inspire “future generations to be a part of solving this extraordinary challenge of feeding the world.”

Victor is currently conducting an artist-in-residency at the State Historical Museum of Iowa, located at 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines. The public is invited to visit with Victor as he works on the sculpture between 10 a.m. and noon and again between 2-4 p.m. through Thursday.

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