Kansas City, Kansas artist chosen for U.S. Capitol statue of Harry Truman

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A local artist is putting the finishing touches on a new statue that will soon stand inside the U.S. Capitol building. It honors former President Harry Truman.

Kansas City, Kansas-based sculptor Tom Corbin has spent the past two years on this project. Right now, Corbin is putting the finishing touches on Truman’s likeness, a likeness formed from pouring over hundreds of photographs of the former President.

“It’s very intimate as far as knowing every little aspect of a person’s face,” Corbin said. “I wanted to communicate Harry as being friendly, outgoing. He was always in motion. He was a big walker, so I came up with the idea of him descending these stairs.”

Corbin’s idea of a friendly Harry walking down to greet visitors won over the committee that included members of Harry Truman’s family.

For two decades, Missouri officials have wanted a Truman statue at the Capitol. The Truman Library Institute recently raised enough funds to commission a piece, and along with Truman’s relatives, they chose Corbin to create his vision.

Tom beat out five other sculptors for the honor of creating a new Harry Truman statue.

First, Tom made a three-foot-tall model of Harry walking down stairs to greet visitors. Then, he began to enlarge it, molding Truman in pieces – hands, face, torso, legs.

The parts are being sent to a foundry in Oklahoma to be cast into molds before pouring the bronze. The final statue will stand seven and a half feet tall.

Tom says this is the honor of a lifetime.

“My friends and family are just as excited as I am about it because whenever I run into friends on the street, they go, ‘How is Harry? How’s it coming along?’ I said he is good, he is good. ‘When is it? When’s the unveiling?’ So it’s fun.”

The unveiling will be next Spring at the Capitol building in Washington D.C.

However, each state only gets two statues in the National Statuary Hall. Missouri’s representatives are former Senators Thomas Hart Benton and Francis Preston Blair. Truman will replace Benton.

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