Templeton offers personal take on creating memorial
For Karen Templeton the project "Heroes Among Us" has been a labor of love, but she has mixed feelings now that the sculpture is complete. Just before the ceremony she described how the sculpture came to be and how connected she became with the families of the men that were lost and with the men themselves.
"I have empty nest syndrome," she said. "I am eager to see the faces of the loved ones and their reaction to the sculpture. Artists are always concerned if their work reaches out to the audience and does it do what they set out to do. Each of these miners have become so precious to me. They are dear friends now, although I didn't know any of them when they were alive. Their families are like families to me. They have been such a part of it. Getting to know the families and to know of their loss. They have shared such wonderful memories with me."
Each image has it's own personality. Templeton said that with Brandon Kimber, his hair had to be just right. With Dale Black he just loved to laugh and he made people laugh with him.
"I feel like I know each one of them now," said Templeton. "Manny Sanchez was deeply loved by his family and he loved his kids, they were the most important thing to him. Carlos Payan loved to play with his nieces and nephews, he was shy and laid back, he was the youngest of the miners."
Templeton explained that Luis Hernandez, had a one year old daughter at the time of his death.
"I really connected with his daughter," she stated. "I was two years old when my Dad died in a mining accident. I knew the least about Luis, but I know his daughter. Gary Jensen loved to tell jokes and he was a gentle soul. Don Erickson just loved to do things; he was always busy. Kerry Allred hated to have his picture taken. Every picture of him, had him doing something strange. With Brandon Phillips, I didn't know much about him, but I connected with Brandon immediately, his portrait came and just stayed with me. Some of the others, I struggled with, but Brandon stayed with me. He went into the mine to make a good home for his son. He had only been in the mine for 11 days at the time of the accident."