lights up New York
Two days a week, twelve months a year, Jennifer
Stewart paints herself green, puts on a toga and strikes a pose
as the Statue of Liberty in New York City tourist districts. Is she
crazy? No -- it's her job. Stewart, otherwise known as Living Liberty,
is a performance artist who, when not uplifting huddled masses of
tourists, provides visual impact at meetings, parties and conventions in
the New York area.
Stewart was first made aware of her resemblance to
Lady Liberty in 1985, when she was a mild-mannered art therapist working
with mentally ill adults in Iowa City, Iowa. One morning, a patient (a
diagnosed schizophrenic) suddenly woke up, saw Stewart and said,
"You look like the Statue of Liberty!" A year later, Stewart
noticed a newspaper ad about a national Statue of Liberty look-alike
contest and remembered her patient's comment. She smeared herself with
water-based house paint (matching the color to an oxidized penny),
constructed a costume from various household items (including a mop, a
laundry basket, a paper towel roll and an empty Cool Whip container),
and voilą -- she won.
"I was the only contestant who was green,"
laughs Stewart. "My friend took a picture; I'm sitting at the end
of a row and there are nine rows of women in white glaring at me."
A few months later, walking through New York City's Washington Square
Park, Stewart realized people might pay her just for posing in her
costume. So she donned her outfit, set a container in front of her,
raised her torch and watched the bucket fill. Living Liberty was