Arkansan selected to create Johnny Cash statue, to be displayed in U.S. Capitol

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — You may not be familiar with his name, but you’ve seen his artwork around the Natural State.

Soon, Arkansas artist Kevin Kresse will have his work in the national spotlight, giving recognition to not only his talent, but to another well-known Arkansan.

From a sculpture in Little Rock’s Two Rivers Park to murals across the river in the Argenta District, one might say the Natural State is Kevin Kresse’s canvas.

“That’s what I love about what I do. For someone who can become a little bored easily, it’s nice to have a change of pace,” Kevin Kresse said.  

Kresse’s favorite works, however, sit like a few old friends right in his living room.

“Al Green from Forrest City, Glenn Campbell from Delight and I’m only halfway through with Louie Jordan from Brinkley, Arkansas,” Kresse said as he showed off his clay sculptures.

Lining the window of his living room are clay sculptures honoring Arkansas’s greatest names in music.

“So many of these people, I love their music so much, so this became a labor of love doing these,” Kresse said.  

Soon, one sculpture will make the trek from Kresse’s Little Rock home to our nation’s capital – Kingsland, Arkansas’s own Johnny Cash.

“I saw an article and I looked down and saw Johnny Cash, I saw U.S. Capitol and it hit me like ‘Wow, this is big!’” laughed Kresse.

Out of dozens of artists across the country, Kresse was selected to create a life-size sculpture of the Man in Black for National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. 

“Johnny (Cash) was always one of those people I’ve admired, but the more I found out about him, the more respect I had and the more I loved his music,” Kresse said.  

A three-foot model that currently sits in his living room will soon stand eight feet tall and will be cast in bronze. Kresse is waiting on final approval from his most important critic of all.

“If the Cash family is happy, then everyone will be happy,” Kresse said. “So far, every indication from them is that they are thrilled.”

A native son sculpting a native son; just like a beautiful piece of art, it’s an honor Kresse is still taking in.

“This is definitely the biggest milestone in my art career,” Kresse said. “I’m still taking it in and realizing that it’s real and it’s happening. It’s an incredible honor.”

In 2019, Governor Asa Hutchinson signed off on legislation to have not only Johnny Cash, but civil rights activist Daisy Bates on display at the U.S. Capitol.

According to Kresse, the sculpture should be at the U.S. Capitol by the end of 2022.

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