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Artwork by MSU alumna Thornsberry publicly displayed in Morehead, Pikeville

Thornsberry Wings MuralRegardless of the artistic media she works in, Kaylee Thornsberry (Class of 2021) doesn’t want to keep her work to herself. 

“I am interested in any art opportunity that is shared with me or that I come across," Thornsberry said. "Every artist is looking for an opportunity for their work to be seen."   

Some of Thornsberry's recent art in Morehead and Pikeville is getting seen by many people every day – she's created some large-scale, public pieces that provide art to residents, out-of-towners and tourists alike.   

Thornsberry is from West Liberty and is a recipient of W. Paul and Lucille Caudill Little Endowment for the Study of Arts. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) in Art and Arts Teaching P-12, Bachelor of Arts with certification in December 2021.   

Thornsberry said the most beneficial parts of being an art student at MSU were the atmosphere of the Claypool-Young Art Building, the mentorship she received from faculty and the smaller class sizes that led to more personalized attention. She chose to pursue a BFA because of the challenge and the opportunities to present her work in galleries.   

"For me, I like to push myself and if I'm going to do something, I want to do it to the best of my ability, so for me, that's what BFA was," Thornsberry said.   

As Thornsberry grew as an artist, her work garnered the interests of MSU professors on a committee to select artists to contribute to the "Winged Animals of Kentucky" murals at Peggy's Place in the City of Morehead’s Don Greenhill Park (the Eagle wings are her contribution). She also contributed two panels to the 18-panel Rotary Club mural on the side of Pasquale's restaurant in downtown Morehead.   

Thornsberry Bear PictureShe also submitted work to the Pikeville Main Street program for its artistic bears that appear around downtown (the bear is the University of Pikeville's mascot). 

"I decided to enter, not knowing how much of a chance I had or how competitive the entry would be. I usually have the mindset if you don't enter, you definitely won't be chosen and if you do, the worst that can happen is you don't get chosen," she said. "In art, you have to learn how to deal with disappointment. When I got the call that I had a bear chosen, I was over the moon. Over the phone, I asked which design of mine was chosen, and that's when they told me they'd actually like to talk to me about that they wanted to pursue both and I was even more blown away. I felt like my art career was moving in the right direction."   

Currently, Thornsberry is an art teacher at West Carter High School in Olive Hill, and continues to work as an independent artist. She is working on a new series and doing commissioned drawings, paintings and sculptures throughout the year. She will be getting another public art opportunity after being chosen to paint a fiberglass horse for Horsemania 2022 in Lexington.    

"I will always be looking for more public art opportunities. I did really enjoy the mural work and I will be looking for more opportunities like those," she said. "My career aspirations are pretty open. I am up for anything that comes my way."   

To learn more about Kaylee Thornsberry's artwork, visit   

For more information about exhibitions and programs in Art and Design, please visit, email or call 606-783-2766. 

Photo, top: Kaylee Thornsberry (Class of 2021) pictured with the two panels she contributed to the Morehead Rotary Club Mural in downtown Morehead.  

Photo, right: Kaylee Thornsberry created eagle wings for the "Winged Animals of Kentucky" murals at Peggy's Place in the City of Morehead's Don Greenhill Park.  

Photo, left: The Pikeville Main Street program, which places artistic bears around downtown Pikeville, selected Kaylee Thornsberry's submission as one of the pieces to be displayed.