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MSU art students and alumni contribute to downtown mural in Morehead

Morehead State University Department of Art & Design students – past and present – contributed their artistic talents to a large-scale piece in downtown Morehead.   

MSU art students, alumni and emeritus faculty submitted designs that were selected by a committee for the 18-panel Morehead Rotary Club mural on the side of Pasquale's restaurant in downtown Morehead, which was unveiled in October 2021.   

Students who contributed were Ethan Jenkins (junior art and design major from Morehead) and Macie Lowe (junior art major from Morehead). MSU Art & Design alumni contributors include Abbie Grace (Class of 2015), Zach Potter and Kaylee Thornsberry (Class of 2021). MSU Art & Design faculty emeriti Robert Franzini and Joe Sartor also contributed.  

"Public art is a fantastic way for an artist to share their work outside a traditional gallery venue, and the mural's location is in a highly visible area of downtown Morehead," said Elizabeth Mesa-Gaido, professor of art at MSU. "It's exciting to see several of our current students and alumni being so visible in our community, as well as presenting their creative work alongside former faculty. Their paintings are a great addition to the growing number of public art pieces in Morehead, and their selection to participate in the mural project is a testament to the quality of their creative work."  

Jenkins said his design, which harkened back to the region's annual Cave Run Storytelling Festival, blended a vital memory of his childhood with his love of landscapes.  

"It feels really gratifying to get work displayed, especially in my hometown," Jenkins said. "It is the largest work I've created, and I am proud of it considering the time allotted to create it."  

Lowe's panel painting of a barn in Rowan County represents her love of Appalachian landscapes. She said using art to bring people together coincides with her goals of either working in arts administration or as an art professor after graduating from MSU in 2023.  

"Along with the mural, it inspires me to use my art to invite everyone in the community together to create a great place to live." 

Thornsberry, whose work is also featured in 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), contributed two panels to the mural.    

"I tried to think of things that Rowan County is known for one of those things that came to mind was musky fishing, and the other was Lockegee (Rock)," Thornsberry said. "I was thinking about eating in Pop's Barbecue and seeing the mounted muskies and the awards and advertisements for the tournaments, and that is what led to the muskie painting. For Lockegee, it's something that I feel like everyone knows about. It is a huge attraction for the college students."    

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

Photo: MSU art students, alumni and emeritus faculty helped create the 18-panel Morehead Rotary Club mural on the side of Pasquale's restaurant in downtown Morehead. Image courtesy of Macie Lowe.