An Unbridled Spirit is uniquely Kentucky. Horses are a defining feature of the state’s culture and an attraction that earns the attention of people globally.
This visibility is a vital component of helping connect communities to a charitable cause. On Friday, April 29th, 2022, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear helped reveal a public art project inside the historic Capitol rotunda alongside elected leaders, students, teachers, non-profit organizations, bankers, and community members.
“Public art adds value to the cultural, aesthetic and economic vitality of a community, and perhaps no public art project is as iconic as the painted horses of LexArts’ Horse Mania,” said Gov. Beshear. “I am excited to see the new installations of this third incarnation of the project and thrilled to see it extended to the western Kentucky communities impacted by the December tornadoes. It’s just another example of how our culture and our traditions are indeed a common bond in our Commonwealth.”
Commonwealth Compassion Horses of Hope, inspired by LexArts and funded by Independence Bank, is a spinoff project of the extremely popular Horse Mania project, returning this year for the first time since 2010 to commemorate LexArts’ 50th anniversary.
Ten skilled student artists, including Elma Kalabic & Hayli Hundley from Warren Central High School, were identified from three western Kentucky communities impacted by the deadly and devastating December tornadoes. This group was invited to the Horse Capital of the World to be paired with and paint alongside three professional Lexington artists. The blank life-size fiberglass horses, offered in a standing, grazing, or walking pose, were covered in colorful and creative designs showing the communities’ strength after the severe storms.
“The ability of art to heal is powerful,” said Ame Sweetall, LexArts President and CEO. “We believe in engaging art to restore hope and faith in the future. The Horses of Hope project is LexArts’ way of extending compassion and empathy to these communities recovering from December’s devastating storms. Horse Mania brings immense joy and civic pride to the Lexington community, and we found a way to share that experience with our neighbors in need.”
As finished art pieces, the horses will travel to each of the three affected towns for a one-day showing where the public will be invited to observe them. An accompanying identifying plaque will indicate the horse, artist and sponsor. The Bank-sponsored horses will be displayed in downtown Lexington from mid-June through November, including during the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
“As a long-time fan and supporter of LexArts, I was so excited when they reached out to us. It has been amazing to help with something that started as an idea and a phone call and grew into a beautiful project,” said Stacy Berge, Independence Bank Lexington Market President. “Working with the students has been truly heartwarming. This thoughtful and talented group of young people took what they know about their communities and the continuing struggle to rise from the devastation and collaborated with the artists to create lasting art installations that can inspire, lighten the heart and serve as a reminder of the strength of their towns and counties.”
To help raise money for storm relief, the trio of horses will be auctioned separately at Keeneland — home of the largest Thoroughbred auction house in the world. This event is tentatively scheduled for December 10th, 2022 which happens to fall on the one-year anniversary of the massive tornadoes.
“The tornado that ripped through the communities we call home will never be forgotten,” Independence Bank President Jacob Reid shared. “But what we will remember most will be the strength and resilience of the residents of these hometowns and how folks from all over the state and the country have come together to help. It is truly incredible to see the generosity to rebuild and extend a hand to our neighbors. Being new to the Lexington market, this was a great opportunity to come together and connect the Commonwealth in a way that offers healing and hope.”
The horses, named “Resolute,” “Fabric of Love” and “In the Presence of Inflorescence,” will then be permanently displayed in Graves, Hopkins, and Warren Counties respectively. For more details, including the organizations identified to prosper from the proceeds, please visit the Bank online at www.1776bank.com/horsesofhope. Information about LexArts and its initiatives, including Horse Mania, can be found at www.lexarts.org.