This blog features observations from Randy Turner, a former teacher, newspaper reporter and editor. Send news items or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Crocker High School graduate donates sculpture commemorating Joplin Tornado
(From the City of Joplin)
Sawyer Brown wanted to do something to commemorate the lives lost during the May 22, 2011 tornado. He also was preparing to compete in a welding completion. So he combined the two projects and created a sculpture of a tornado, incorporating various art elements to depict the significance of this life-changing event. Brown completed this work as a senior project in the Waynesville Career Center. He graduated from Crocker High School, near Waynesville, this past May.
Today, Brown came to Joplin to donate this award-winning sculpture entitled “Gone, But Not Forgotten” to the City in recognition of the hard work, perseverance and commitment that the community has portrayed throughout the aftermath of the tragedy.
During the presentation, he pointed out that the shape of the state of Missouri served as sculpture’s base, with engraved stars on the state to commemorate the number of lives lost. The base of the sculpture is anchored in an engraved area of the base, noting it as Jasper County. The tornado rises from the base with 20 individually-cut sheets of metal welded together in a precise manner to form the tornado. Within the tornado is the date of the disaster, May 22, 2011, and each element of the date are welded into the vortex of the tornado, making it visible only when looking into the top of the sculpture. On the top of the tornado, he placed four stars in remembrance of the Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT), firefighters, police officers, and volunteers who worked and helped during the disaster. The statue is made of steel, and following the competition, Brown had it painted with a gray powder coating with metal gold flakes. Having to meet specific dimensions for competition, it could not be painted at that time. It is 12 inches wide, 18 inches long and 18 inches tall, and is made of steel. The sculpture weighs 80 pounds.
Alex Neuman, Brown’s welding instructor at Waynesville Career Center, spoke about the project and Brown’s creative energy to complete it.
“He thought of this idea, drew it out on paper and then went to work to create it,” said Neuman. “Sawyer is a mature young man with many skills and did a great job on this project.”
Brown won Second Place in the State of Missouri Skills USA competition with this sculpture. He said he always planned to donate it to the City.
“I came down here (Joplin) after the tornado because I had family here,” said Brown, “and I couldn't’t believe the devastation. I wanted to do something to recognize those who had lost their lives during the disaster.”
Many family and friends joined Brown for the presentation including his parents Jeff and Mary Brown, his sister Celeste, and Neuman. Also attending were aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, former teachers, and his high school counselor.
Sawyer was a great student,” said Ann Stevenson, Crocker High School counselor. “But I didn’t see him much,” she laughed, referring to his responsible nature and mature behavior.
Assistant City Manager Sam Anselm accepted the donation for the City of Joplin. “We have been humbled by the outpouring of support we have received from around the country and the world. This sculpture has great significance to us, as it shows what we’ve faced and that we continue to stand. On behalf of the city, we’d like to thank Sawyer for this gift to our community.”