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Centennial Eagle creator Sam McKinney speaks to campus community

embedded-news-sam-mckinney-workshop.webpThe world-renowned artist responsible for Morehead State's Centennial Eagle statue is coming to share his knowledge and experience with the campus community.

Sam McKinney (Class of 1973, 1992) will discuss the creation of the statue and his art at 2 p.m. Monday, March 25, at the Adron Doran University Center (ADUC) Theater. The event is free and open to the public.

The Kentucky-born sculptor and painter has displayed his work both nationally and internationally. Last year, thanks to a generous gift from MSU alum Ronald "Ron" Cartee (Class of 1965) and the Cartee Family, McKinney created a bronze Eagle statue (titled "Spirit of Aspiration") MSU unveiled at a special dedication ceremony during Homecoming 2023.

Professor of Art Lisa Mesa-Gaido said McKinney will highlight artwork he has created throughout his prolific career.

"It is important for individuals to see members of our community be successful and persistent in pursuing their dreams and passions," Mesa-Gaido said. "One of Sam's passions has been art, which he has dedicated his entire life to. For aspiring and regional artists, seeing Sam be so accomplished and make a living at what he loves is inspiring and provides a model for them."

McKinney has influenced MSU art alumni like Kaylee Thornsberry (Class of 2021). Thornsberry, an independent artist and art teacher, took private lessons in painting and sculpture from McKinney for years and asked Thornsberry to assist when he was creating the bronze eagle statue. She helped McKinney roll out hundreds of feathers and worked on the eagle's feet, punching out small circles of clay and pressing them around the feet and legs to add texture. Thornsberry returned to campus to see the statue's unveiling.

"Watching the veil come off of that Eagle could take your breath away, and to know I even got to touch it and play even the smallest role in creating it was an honor," Thornsberry said. "To be able to tell everyone that I worked on what has become a staple of campus is unbelievable. I have so much gratitude for Sam and all the opportunities he has provided me. I'm honored to be called one of his proteges."

Getting to learn from and collaborate with McKinney over the years, Thornsberry thinks his upcoming presentation is a must-see for any aspiring artist.

"Any artist that gets the chance to hear from Sam should jump on the opportunity, he has endless knowledge to share. He knows his craft and loves it; it's an honor to hear him talk," she said. "Sam is a great example of what the art department helps foster and how it can be beneficial to the overall campus and community."

To learn more about the Department of Communications, Media, Art and Design programs, email or call 606-783-2766.

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