March 8, 2010

Dr. Norman Borlaug (Murals and Current Events)

Who is Norman Borlaug ... and why should we all care?

I created AOGS to solve large-scale site specific problems through the use of great art. My mission statement from day one was to bring all types of art, including illustrations to contemporary venues. Barnes & Noble was the first client to see the possibility of using a fabricated mural. Gary Kelley's authors mural is now in over 900 stores throughout the U.S.

Gary Kelley works on a mural for the Univesity of Iowa

In 2008 I was contacted by Deborah Beckett, the Associate Design Director of Gensler Chicago, to source several of my AOGS artists to create artworks for a new structure under construction: The Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Hall of Laureates. The blueprints for the rebuilt structure showed some very large interior spaces that begged for beautiful explanatory murals. If the client has a story to tell, illustration is still the strongest form of art.

The current building . . .

Doctor Borlaug has certainly flown under the radar for a guy who has won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. He was also a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian honor. If you stopped 100 people in the street, I bet less than 5% would know his name. But if you said Miracle Rice and Wheat and told people that this was the man who had done more to fight hunger on the planet than anyone else and is responsible for feeding billions, the number of people who would start to put two and two together might begin to get it and listen.

I was educated about Doctor Borlaug through my association with the former U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia, Kenneth Quinn. Both Amb. Quinn and Dr. Borlaug are Iowans, and the Ambassador has dedicated the past ten years to bringing Dr. Borlaug's contribution to the fight against hunger front and center. He is in the process of transforming the former main public library in Des Moines Iowa into the The Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Hall of Laureates, also known as the World Food Prize Foundation. That Prize is awarded yearly to the person most responsible for advancing the cause of reducing world hunger. In addition to being the location for this event, the Foundation will also serve as a memorial to Dr. Borlaug's memory, and an interactive center for new possibilities in agriculture.

Dr. Norman Borlaug, sculpted by John Collier

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