|SCULPTURE | N. SWEARER|
"Liz," a whimsical fantasy dragon, was commissioned by the daughters of Max and Rebecca Gralnek in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary. She was presented to the public library of Newton, Iowa in remembrance of the special times the family spent at the library (Rebecca had volunteered at the library throughout her lifetime). They wished a visual representation of the mystery that lay behind the walls of the library and one that children could play on and be creatively inspired by. They chose the fantasy-dragon image.
The Gralneks may have been influenced in their choice of a dragon by their familiarity with the popular "Iggy" (Nicholas Swearer's giant iguana made of railroad spikes that stands in front of the Science Museum of Minnesota). They chose him to create "Liz" partly because he used salvaged metals to create "Iggy" and Max Gralnek ran a metals-salvage business in Newton.
Swearer was commissioned in March 1992 and took six months creating "Liz" at his Connecticut studio. She was dedicated October 20, 1992. "Liz" was fashioned in a female persona in honor of the four sisters who commissioned her.Large-scale and dynamic, "Liz" has many playmates in Newton. She measures 30 feet long by 15 feet wide by 6 feet in height and weighs two tons. She is made primarily of bent 3/8-steel plates but contains an array of other objects, from doorknobs to carbide oil drill bits. Metals were connected by stick (arc) welding and were cut with a plasma cutter. In all she contains a mile of cutting, half a mile of welding (500 pounds of welding rod) and half a mile of grinding. There is no internal skeleton; instead, she is an exoskeleton of continuously welded seams. Swearer created "Liz" as a sister to "Iggy." Though they are quite different in materials and visual dynamics, they are both lizards of the same scale and have the same impact on human space.