Local sculptor designing larger-than-life statue of President Truman for US Capitol

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — He’s remembered as being a simple man who rose to great influence.

U.S. President Harry S. Truman will soon be honored with a full-sized bronze statue in the U.S. Capitol. The Kansas City-area artist designing it said it will be different from other presidential statues.

Tom Corbin said even being selected to personify an American president is an honor. In his 40-plus years of living in the Kansas City metro, the owner of Corbin Bronze has become known for large sculptures, such as the Kansas City Firefighters Memorial, the Kansas City Children’s Fountain and Kauffman Memorial Gardens.

Since last fall, he’s been perfecting a maquette of a larger-than-life size bronze statue of Truman, which will eventually be placed in the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.

On Wednesday, Corbin laughed in relief while surveying the stacks of photos that adorn the walls of his KCK studio.

“There’s no such thing as too many pictures,” Corbin grinned.

Most of those photos came from the Truman Presidential Library, which sits in Independence, Truman’s hometown. Corbin also worked with models wearing clothes Truman wore while in office, painstaking details meant to be certain he portrayed the 33rd president perfectly.

“To get the real essence of Harry, and to decide on a pose, it required that,” Corbin explained.

Corbin said it was important to ensure Truman was seen in motion, unlike the five other presidential statues that are already inside the U.S. Capitol.

In his maquette, Truman’s likeness can be seen walking down a flight of stairs, as if he is busy at work or about to shake hands with someone.

“He was a man of the people. There had to be some way we could communicate this motion. We looked at all the other statues in statuary hall, and they were all static. We wanted something with motion,” Corbin said. “It’s almost like he’s going to go down and greet you.”

If the Truman Library Institute approves Corbin’s final design, he’ll use a foundry based in Oklahoma, which will use computer scanning to mill that maquette into a larger size, perhaps as big as 8.5 feet tall.

Cassie Pikarsky, who works for that institute, said Corbin was chosen from six finalists who submitted designs.

“It was important that we have a local artist,” Pikarsky told FOX4. “We’re very excited to be able to tell people that Truman is from Kansas City and from Independence. We think everyone should know that.”

Pikarsky also said $325,000 in donated money has been raised so far to offset the costs for this Truman tribute. She laughingly pointed out that Truman was a simple man at heart, and a large statue might have been too much for him — even if most Americans would say he`s worth it.

Corbin said the soonest his completed statue would be seen in the U.S. Capitol would be August 2020, which will also mark the 75th anniversary of the beginning of Truman’s time in the Oval Office.

The Truman Library Institute credits Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver II for getting the project started five years ago.

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