Artist selected to create Borlaug statue

Ag/Outdoor

October 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

An artist from Aberdeen, South Dakota has been selected to create a statue of a famous Iowan for display in Washington, D.C. Last year, the Iowa legislature and Governor Branstad approved the move to place a statue of 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug in the U.S. Capitol Building’s National Statuary Hall. Jeff Morgan, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, says 33-year-old Benjamin Victor was selected by a committee to create the likeness of Borlaug after reviewing resumes and proposals from 65 artists from around the world.

Borlaug clay statue

Victor will be working to install the statue in March of 2014 – around the time of what would have been Borlaug’s 100th birthday. Borlaug, a native of Cresco, died in the fall of 2009 at the age of 95. Borlaug was a plant scientist who developed new strains of wheat. He’s credited with saving up to a billion people from starvation around the world. Morgan says Victor, the artist, has developed a maquette – or scale model – of the statue, which features a young Borlaug writing in a notebook and standing in front of wheat plants.  “The process will be to develop the clay model and from there it will be sent to a foundry to be cast and made into bronze with a patina applied to it,” Morgan said. “It will then be transported to the U.S. Capitol Building for the installation.”

The selection of the artist for the Borlaug statue was announced Tuesday as the World Food Prize festivities were getting underway in Des Moines. The annual award was created by Borlaug in 1986 as a way to honor individuals who’ve worked to improve the quality and quantity of food around the world. Borlaug’s likeness will replace the statue of a Civil War hero from Iowa that was placed in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall in 1903. That statue of U.S. Senator James Harlan, the one-time president of Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, will be moved to the Iowa capitol in Des Moines. Each U.S. state is allowed to have statues of two “notable citizens” on display in the U.S. Capitol.

Borlaug statue sketch

The Borlaug statue will join a statue of Samuel Kirkwood, who served as governor of Iowa during the Civil War. The creation and installation of the Borlaug statue is being financed through a private fundraising effort.

(Radio Iowa)