This Public Art Display Was Created to Help a Community Heal

This Public Art Display Was Created to Help a Community Heal

Photo Credit: Independence Bank_revolutioninbanking/youtube

Over 64,000 tornadoes have been recorded in the United States in a 70-year stretch from 1950 to 2019. Out of that total, only one tornado in 1952 shared the same characteristics as one that touched down in Kentucky during the winter months of 2021.

The tornado that swept across the Commonwealth was rated as an F3. [1]

It’s not an unusual news story to see a tornado touching down in the United States. Although some people see them as an issue in the Plains states, they’re relatively common between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians.

Spring is usually when the most tornadoes form. They’re possible in December, but they historically start in states further south in that month.

It Was a Devastating Moment for Kentucky Right Before Christmas

At least five tornadoes, including the F3, made their way across western Kentucky just two weeks before Christmas. One of them stayed on the ground for over 200 miles. [2]

The initial survey suggested that one of the tornadoes could have been an F4, which means it had wind speeds of nearly 200 miles per hour.

These storms eliminated about 500 homes with their path of destruction, taking 74 people from their families instantly. Instead of finalizing their holiday plans, these families were forced to start planning memorial services.

Knowing that their communities needed time to grieve and heal, LexArts and Independence Bank joined forces to create a public arts display.

LexArts is based in Lexington and serves as the local arts agency. Their Horse Mania public art project creates statues of horses in various positions while artists create murals on them. These stunning pieces can be placed in any location, from street corners to building lobbies, to inspire the imagination.

Each horse is six feet by eight feet in size, creating a life-like representation to enjoy. More than 70 of these fiberglass horse statues are being formed, with Independence Bank funding three of them to represent the areas affected by the tornado. [3]

Three Lexington artists agreed to work on the project, incorporating the help of ten high school art students from Warren, Hopkins, and Graves Counties.

The primary themes of the horses represent hope, memory, and renewal. Governor Andy Beshear recently unveiled the designs at the State Capitol.

“Getting the schools involved and the students for the communities will help to build a bridge that helps these communities heal,” said Darvin Towery, Graves County Market President for Independence Bank. “We need to remember what happened, but we need to move forward, and we need to come together to do that.”

“I think the students working together from all three counties is good.”

The Horses of Hope Will Travel to Each Affected Community

The three commissioned pieces from the LexArts and Independent Bank partnership will travel across the affected communities for exclusive one-day showings. After the tour, they’ll be installed in downtown Lexington to be on display until November.

The Horses of Hope will eventually be auctioned off to raise funds for storm relief. Keeneland has agreed to host the event, which is the home of the world's most prominent Thoroughbred auction house.

“This idea of being able not just to provide an opportunity to do this and enjoy it, plus the funds we raise on these horses at auction will go back to the community,” said Ame Sweetall, President and CEO of LexArts. “We want to continue to pay it forward.”

Event organizers hope to hold the fundraising event on December 10, 2022, to commemorate the anniversary of the tornado. The goal is to have them eventually displayed in the storm-impacted areas to symbolize hope, resilience, and perseverance.

“This really happened. As soon as I saw those pictures, as soon as I saw those videos, I knew people had been hurt. That’s when I knew that I had to do something,” said Camryn Lagrange, one of the high school student artists working on the project. [4]

“It’s more than a memory,” said Lagrange. “Actually, having a purpose to paint with has been an amazing experience, especially with something this close and deep to me. I think it’s more of a representation of a symbol of how strong our community is to build back from a disaster.

Donations are currently being accepted to help the affected communities recover through a GoFundMe account. Over $109,000 has been raised of a $100,000 goal.

Diane Boyer recently donated in memory of Marian Berge. “I didn’t know [her], but she raised a very fine son who believes in doing good things. Hugs and prayers.”


[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/12/13/heres-how-rare-that-massive-tornado-kentucky-actually-was/; [2] https://wfpl.org/kentucky-faces-greater-tornado-risks-because-of-climate-change/; [3] https://www.1776bank.com/2022/04/22/horse-of-hope/; [4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=AuXinLpYXx4

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