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In 1940, Christian Petersen attended the Story County, Iowa, cornhusking contest, where he saw Marion Link husk an incredible seventy ears of corn in one minute. Petersen was so impressed with the twenty-four-year-old farmer that he immediately went home and made the first model for his sculpture Cornhusker. Link went on to win the Iowa State championship, cleaning more than three thousand pounds of corn in eighty minutes. He later placed second in the national championship with "probably the largest single crowd... ever assembled for any one event in the state of Iowa," reported the Des Moines Register. Petersen depicted the farmer as a heroic, strapping man because, for him, Link represented the health and virility of the nation. Petersen believed that the contests exemplified the courage of midwesterners who dealt with the hardships of farming during the Great Depression.

Credit: Gift of the University Museums, Iowa State University, in honor of Christian Petersen

Modeled 1941, cast 2001
Bronze
106.5 x 38.7 x 64.5 cm
2001.31
Image and text: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2024

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