Harlan native and Indiana artist Joyce Minnick has donated a sculpture honoring the coal miners of eastern Kentucky.
Entitled “A Way of Life,” the sculpture will feature a bronze plaque with the names of 100 miners who dedicated their lives to the coal mining industry.
“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.”
The commemorative sculpture will be permanently housed at the museum. Done in clay and cast in bronze the sculpture, along with pedestal and granite will stand approximately five feet tall. The items used to create the sculpture belonged to Minnick’s grandfather, John W. Jump, of Closplint, who used them as a coal miner in the 1950s.
“I was born and raised in Harlan County — I’ve got Harlan County blood running through my veins,” said Minnick. “I never knew we were poor, living in those mountains with my grandparents were the happiest days of my young life.”
To raise funds needed to bronze cast her sculpture, Minnick is asking for a $100 per name donation to list your loved one’s name and county on the bronze plaque, which will be a permanent part of the sculpture. She said those contributing to the project will be notified via email the date of the dedication at the Benham Coal Museum.
“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.”
Donations will taken from through Nov. 30 and may be mailed to Blue Sage Studios, 144 N.7th Street, Middletown, Ind. 47356. The project will be on a “first come, first serve” basis. Any donations over the 100 names will be returned. For more information, call (765-354-4108 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit her website at www.minnickbluesagestudios.com.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at email@example.com