HARLAN, Ky. (AP) — A bronze sculpture to honor eastern Kentucky miners is planned for the Coal Museum in Benham.
The Harlan Daily Enterprise (http://bit.ly/X4E5Jc) reports the piece, called "A Way of Life," is being donated by artist Joyce Minnick, a Harlan native who currently lives in Indiana. Minnick says she used mining items that belonged to her grandfather, John W. Jump of Closplint, to create the sculpture, which will be on a pedestal and stand about five feet high.
Now, she is raising funds to cast her creation in bronze before it is placed at the museum. In order to do that, she is asking that people interested in adding a loved one's name to a bronze plaque that will go with the sculpture contribute $100 to the project. She says she is taking 100 names — just enough to pay for the bronze casting — and that those who contribute will be notified of the date that the sculpture will be dedicated.
"I have had this in my heart to do for a long time," said Minnick. "The Lord has blessed me with wonderful memories that gives me my strength and makes up my being. Proud, hard-working miners have raised, through their dedication and determination, generations of loved ones honoring their family ties. Thank you seems so insignificant. How can you thank those miners who risked their lives daily to provide for their family. To quote Benham Coal Museum Curator Phyllis Sizemore, 'For them it was not a sacrifice but a way of life.' Thank you for putting into words what would ultimately become the title for this piece."
She said living in the mountains with her grandparents "were the happiest days of my young life" and she felt a desire to give something back.
"I visited Lone Mountain mining while here in Harlan County and I was honored beyond words," said Minnick. "My journey has been so emotional in creating this sculpture. I'm a firm believer we are led in the paths we take. My grandmother, Ethel Jump, gave me my grandfather's mining equipment. I understand now the reason for that precious gift. She was led to see that I had it as I am led, through my art, to make it a significant honor to the coal miners of eastern Kentucky."
Information from: Harlan Daily Enterprise, http://www.harlandaily.com