News Column

Las Crucen shares her home with 230 'Lady Liberties'

July 3, 2014

By S. Derrickson Moore, Las Cruces Sun-News, N.M.

July 03--See more

LAS CRUCES -- Coming up with seasonal decor for the Fourth of July is never a problem for Judy Floyd.

She lives with more than 230 "Lady Liberties," her name for a burgeoning collection of representations of the Statue of Liberty.

The fun begins at the entrance of the Picacho Hills home she shares with her husband Mike and friendly rescue Bichon FrisÉs Holly and Hanna.

Lifting her torch at their adobe gate, and decked with a red, white and blue floral spray for the Fourth of July, is a rustic, rust-surfaced statue with a kind of upscale Wild West vibe befitting its point of origin.

"I got that in Dallas," said Floyd, leading visitors to a little alcove in her master bedroom suite, home to a gallery where she rotates displays of her favorites.

There are photographs, a collage formed of hundreds of tiny images, framed magazine covers, needlepoint tapestries and paintings and drawings by famed artists, all depicting our national symbol of freedom.

"This is one of my favorites," she said, showing an original framed piece done entirely in colored pencils by artist Benjamin Telles.

Some of the most sublime pieces are positioned in close proximity to the downright whimsical: three Barbie dolls, Betty Boop, Minnie Mouse, Popeye's girlfriend Olive Oyl and Marilyn Monroe, all costumed as Lady Liberty, and a item found at the New Mexico Museum of Folk Art in Santa Fe that she thinks may have started out as a Wonder Women Pez dispenser. There's also an M&M's dispenser and a few bobbleheads.

Some combine diverse functions with their iconic forms.

"This one is a lawn sprinkler. That's a nutcracker. This one is a lighter. I have Lady Liberties that play music, light up, have sparks and fireworks, and here's an Avon bottle that still has perfume in it. There are radios and clocks, a night light, and a bell that is probably over 100 years old, the oldest thing in the collection. This one was for jewelry display that my sister Betty Egbom found in a gift shop in a trailer in Arkansas. She found several things for me. I have several Statue of Liberty Christmas ornaments, too," Floyd reports.

There's a pretty little Limoges Lady Liberty box from France, sharing a shelf with quirky eyeglasses and a pair of earrings featuring Statue of Liberty stamps. In a nearby nicho is a touching statue of Lady Liberty, surrounded by rescue workers, honoring their heroism following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

It all started with a little souvenir she received in the mid-1970s.

"Friends of mine, Darrell and Judy Gasaway, went to New York and brought me back a snow globe with a little Statue of Liberty. The water inside dried out long ago, but every time they visit, I get it out and put it in a place of honor on the fireplace mantle," Floyd said.

Nearby is another gift from the same couple, a bronze statue that she thinks is the largest item in her collection.

Floyd, an interior designer with her own business, Habitats, manages to tastefully and artistically display about 100 items at a time, all confined to a small area that includes a nicho, shelves and a wall of framed pieces.

She said she would be willing to loan her collection for exhibition if there is interest. And she has given some thought to bequeathing her Lady Liberties, but has made no final decisions.

"I've offered to give it to the first of my sons and daughters-in-law who name a child 'Liberty,' but so far, no one has taken me up on it," said Floyd, who has two sons and five grandchildren.

For now, she's still building her collection.

The New Mexico native, who grew up in Carlsbad and is a New Mexico State University graduate, said she sometimes scores unique original creations in regional galleries and arts and crafts markets, and friends and family members keep an eye out for comely Statue of Liberty finds during their travels.

Almost all of her most cherished Lady Liberty items were gifts, she said, including a colorful drawing by granddaughter Eden, a Statue of Liberty LEGO constructed by grandson Uriah, and an original fine art piece by a talented relative that she said is her all-time favorite: a thought-provoking multimedia work by her brother-in-law, Spencer Floyd.

One side depicts an homage to the traditional icon, collaged with a tape featuring the world-famous message: "Give me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."

The other side features an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe under an arch of barbed wire with a chile flame in her torch, surrounded with a mosaic of images of refugees.

"It's a commentary on the border situation and immigration. This collection is a lot of fun and I enjoy sharing it with people. They get a kick out of it, but it also make you think about what Lady Liberty represents to us and to the world," Floyd said.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450.


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Source: Las Cruces Sun-News (NM)

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