Ill. Artist Creates Firefighter Memorial Sculpture
To view a photo of this sculpture, click here.
The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.
Aug. 08—The centerpiece for a planned memorial to Bloomington firefighters in Miller Park is on schedule to be completed by October.
"I've been putting in 12-hour days but I am happy with the way things are going at this point," said Andrew Jumonville, the Bloomington artist commissioned to design and create a life-sized bronze statue modeled after a Bloomington firefighter.
Jumonville finished detailing work on the sculpture Sunday, then Bloomington firefighters arrived to haul it to an Indianapolis foundry for casting.
"I've seen it twice, including when we packed it up and sent it to Indianapolis, and it is just incredible," said Bloomington Fire Chief Brian Mohr. "It really means a lot more to us because we are using a very talented local artist who is working with our equipment and our personnel and it really has a hometown touch to it."
Jumonville has worked on dozens of previous projects, including "The Convergence of Purpose," the artwork outside the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts depicting a meeting between Abraham Lincoln and his Bloomington-Normal political allies Jesse Fell and David Davis.
A Bloomington firefighter in full gear was used as a model. Jumonville spent a day with the model at the fire department, taking pictures from different angles and with different poses.
"Having our guys participate in this was really a neat experience and we are very proud of this project," Mohr said.
Jumonville said the detailing work to include the fire apparatus took a great deal of time.
"It's a bit more of a challenge because of all of the equipment that a firefighter carries," he said. "You still have to deal with representing the gesture, the pantomime that is going on with the firefighter. Articulating the figure underneath the gear can get somewhat obscured.
"But in the end, the goal is to have the audience comprehend the amount of gear the firefighter carries," he added. "The hardest part is not wanting to obscure the person."
The statue is expected to be unveiled during a ceremony at the conclusion of Fire Prevention Week on Oct. 13 at Miller Park, which comes as the Bloomington Fire Department marks 150 years since its founding, Mohr said.
"We will also honor the department's history at a special ceremony near the area where the bell from the first fire headquarters at Front and East streets now hangs," he added.
A special committee has been raising money to build the memorial where the bell now hangs on a wooden frame on the park's north edge, at the corner of Wood and Allin streets.
"This will be a memorial to preserve the bell's history as a permanent reminder of the sacrifice and a life of service of Bloomington firefighters," he said.
Jumonville, a Bloomington resident who holds both bachelor's and master's degrees from Illinois State University, specializes in exhibit fabrication and natural history exhibit model-making.
He received the $40,000 commission for the statue in the spring.
"For a project like this, ideally, you would like to have a year to work on it," he said. "I would like six months here and then another six months at the foundry. Unfortunately, we just don't have much time with this project.
"So, I put in a lot of hours and talked with my friends over at the foundry and we all believe we can get this finished and ready to go for the ceremony."