The earliest butter sculpture in the modern sense (as public art and not a banquet centerpiece) can be traced to the 1876 Centennial Exhibition where Caroline Shawk Brooks, a farm woman from Helena, Arkansas, displayed her Dreaming Iolanthe, a basrelief bust of a woman modeled in butter. It was kept cold with a system of layered bowls and frequent ice changes. Brooks had no formal art training but as a farmer she spent years making butter and since 1867, to make the work more interesting, she began sculpting it, eventually using it as a selling point. As her skills progressed she began to see it as more than marketing butter, indeed as an art form unto itself. In 1873 she made her masterpiece Dreaming Iolanthe, which she would re-do over the years at regional exhibitions around the US.Thus she was invited to bring a replica to the Centennial Exhibition in 1876 where it drew so much attention and praise she was invited to sculpt live for the crowds. Afterwards she studied in Paris and Florence and eventually became a professional sculptor who worked in marble, but occasionally made more butter art. She returned for the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition and made busts of Queen Isabella and Christopher Columbus, however by now she was not the only butter sculptor, the art form was coming into its own.
At first look, His Holiness The Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa is intimidating. Well built, self possessed, and with a keen glance, he walks more like a middle weight boxer than one of the most venerated religious figures in Tibetan Buddhism.
The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the Tibetan lama who, it has been widely speculated, will succeed the Dalai Lama as the figurehead for Tibetan Buddhism, will be travelling to Washington DC today, for a tour of the US.