the years many talents became apparent," Mrs. Boarman shared. "Jon is a great
cook," for example. He also has a strong talent in photography and has achieved
excellent marks through his young academic career. More recently Jon has displayed an
extraordinary aptitude in sculpture. But it is not just his intellectual and artistic
talent that shines through -- there is hard work and his characteristic drive.
"Its simple," Jon says. "I dont take anything for granted. I
put a lot of work into my projects. Ceramics for instance. Some people think art is a
blow-off class. I dont. To me, its a therapy. Whenever I have a bad day, I go
to work on my project. I work hard."
In the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, Jon used another very different class assignment
to express the strength and clarity of his career direction once again. But amazingly,
this time Jon found it in a photograph -- an icon for victory in the midst of disaster, a
rise above defeat, not simply expressing a career choice this time, but expressing a
choice for life. Boarman saw a symbol of love when all appearances of the burning towers
of 9/11 could have been a case for anger, hatred and a focus on death.
|Linda Lutes gave her
ceramics class a formidable project
Mrs. Linda Lutes, Jons ceramics teacher,
described the assignment. "This was not a 9/11 assignment. It was a head-study (bust)
in which each student was to find a picture of a person, dead or alive, who they were
interested in reproducing in clay. The finished product was to be a realistic sculpture of
that person. Jon," she said, "was the first in the class to have chosen his
picture for the assignment." He found his picture in People Magazine -- the
picture of a fireman from 9/11.
An astonishing aspect of the sculpture Jon created is its stark absence of despair. The
face has laugh lines that soften the rugged masculinity of this man, depicting a happy,
fulfilled life. Those lines are covered with soot. The eyes are direct, focused straight
ahead, compelling the viewer to get to the heart of its creation, and its creator.
|A dusty, clay streaked photo
rests alongside the work in progress
During the course of working with the clay Jon began to know
his subject very well. "The guy wasnt down. He wasnt sad. He was filled
with purpose. He doesnt have an oval face, you know? His eyes
like he wiped out
the dust so that he could see. That part really grabbed me. I dont know if tears
caused it, but Im sure many firemen drew tears that fell in the dust that day."
Jon continued after a thoughtful pause. "Firemen dont say theyre
heroes." He brightened, "But thats been my lifes goal
wanted to be a fireman since I was six. And after high school graduation Im going to
study Fire Science."
"It was inspired."
Great artists often speak about not getting in the way
of the art or the artistic process. Similarly, Jon described how he approached the work of
the sculpture with a clarity that alluded to his focus over the past several months. For
the entire sculpture, "
I just let my hands do what they were doing. I
didnt tell them what to do. I didnt interfere."
Mrs. Lutes echoed, "(The sculpture)
It was inspired."
Jon embraced a
rigorous work routine. Every spare moment at school was spent on the project. Lost in his
art, he requested a time extension and it was granted, later to find that he needed
another. He worked after school and during study hall. He was driven. He put on his
headphones and worked, listening to all kinds of music. Jazz. Pink Floyd. "My teacher
didnt instruct. She didnt direct me. She just let me go. It was great."
Mrs. Lutes recalls, "One day I remember Jon just looking at me
with this huge grin on his face and saying, I dont know how Im doing
this, but he is turning out really good! Another day after staying after
school to work on some of the clothing [on the sculpture], Jon came down to get me and was
just jumping up and down
You know a student is inspired when they are jumping
up and down in front of you and other teachers."
"I want people to know," John shares, "they can do
(with their lives) anything they want. I recommend to anyone who is having a hard time in
their lives to go to the arts music, painting, sculpture all the basic
things that have been around for eons. This is a therapy." Jons inspirational
message is a simple one: a vehicle to our soul is our creativity.
The search is on
As the work was nearing completion, Jons enthusiasm soared
with the idea of presenting the sculpture to the fireman who inspired his work. He shared
his intention to locate the fireman with Mrs. Lutes before her winter break vacation in
Florida. How does one locate a person from a seemingly random photograph in a
publication? He began his quest with a call to the staff of People, but they were
unable to assist him. Intent focused steadily, Jon grappled with the question. If there
was any doubt about divinity of his project, Mrs. Lutes felt that it was dispelled when,
on her return from Florida, she happened to see the very same photo of the fireman on a
billboard. The billboard company formed the necessary link to locating the fireman to whom
Jon will present his sculpture.
|Jon Boarman's labor of love and inspiration
Boarmans ceramics class project is completed but the incredible
story of its connection between an inspired Indiana high student and a brave New York City
firefighter is far from over. In June Boarman is scheduled to travel to the Big Apple and
meet the man whose face is now so intimately familiar and whose career he feels called to
Join Incredible People as we accompany Jon on the next leg of his
September 11: "
I heard the
watched the news on classroom TVs throughout the day. He heard the siren, a very faint
sound, but the very same sound he had learned when he was shadowing Tony Collins, the
Carmel fireman, two years before. "A fireman wears a signal device," Jon
explained. "When theres an absence of movement, the siren sounds to let other
firemen know hes down." Hauntingly, softly, Jon added "
I heard the
Writers Note: Jon Boarman has been surrounded his parents and teachers in
a school that fostered his knowledge of self-worth. He knows his work makes a difference
and states so powerfully and gracefully without a hint of ego. It is a selfless
contribution of people -- Mr. and Mrs. Boarman and Mrs. Linda Lutes, Carmel High School
and the community -- who so nurtures our young people that their contribution to life can
so be clearly heard and respected. --G.H.
A curious combination of
high tech and rustic, Glenna Heller works as a member of Seagate
Technologys engineering information group, lives in a cabin in Californias
Santa Cruz Mountains and writes by the light of her wood-burning stove amid giant
California redwoods. Glenna is a 12- year student of A Course in Miracles and
embraces a lifetime commitment to transformational technology, beauty and true love
wherever it might be found. You can email her at email@example.com.