MSU art students, alumni and faculty at Horse Mania 2022 in Lexington

Morehead State University’s Department of Art and Design will showcase some of their creative work in Lexington.

Horse Mania, a popular arts initiative in Lexington, has selected art professor Gary Mesa-Gaido, Kayle Thornsberry (Class of 2021), and Haley Younce (Class of 2019) designs for Horse Mania 2022.

The exhibition features uniquely painted and sculpted life-size horse sculptures throughout the city from April through November. LexArts is sponsoring the project and it coincides with the 2022 Breeder’s Cup Championships taking place in Keeneland on November 4th and 5th, drawing around 50,000 visitors to Lexington for the event.

Mesa-Gaido is a faculty member in the Department of Art and Design. He teaches courses in digital art, animation, painting, fundamentals and advanced studios. He has been an active artist for more than two decades and exhibits his work nationally and internationally.

A native of West Liberty, Thornsberry earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Art and Arts Teaching P-12, Bachelor of Arts with certification in December 2021. She is currently exhibiting murals in Morehead and the Pikeville Main Street program is exhibiting her artistic work Bears in downtown Pikeville.

A native of Salyersville, Younce earned a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art with a teaching certificate (K-12) in 2019 and plans to earn a Master of Arts in Art with a concentration in Studio Art in December 2022. She learned about Lexington’s Horse Mania from a professor in the Department of Art and Design in the fall semester of 2021.

“Any opportunity that comes my way as an artist is always an opportunity to publicize my work, and my ideology when applying for these projects is that the worst that could happen is if they tell me no,” she said.

After submitting three designs, Horse Mania chose her design, titled “Big Blue”. According to Younce, the design was inspired by “Big Lex,” the horse that turned blue while grazing in Kentucky’s bluegrass pasture.

“To be honest, when I found out that my design had been chosen from the 400 entries I was shocked at the amount of artwork they had to choose from, I was so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a popular public art project .” She said. “Also, knowing that my work has been selected in conjunction with my professors, who I look up to and learn from, shows me that I am steering my artistic work and career in the right direction.”

To learn more about Horse Mania 2022, visit

For more information about programs in art and design, visit, email, or call 606-783-2766.

Photo: Haley Younce (class of 2019) painting “Big Blue,” her design selected for display at the popular LexArts initiative Horse Mania 2022 in Lexington.

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