Photo for WK Students and Artists

An example of one of the horses that will be painted and displayed for fundraising efforts is shown.

Independence Bank is partnering with a Lexington-based nonprofit on a public art display to help raise funds and boost spirits after the winter tornadoes.

“The tornado that ripped through the communities we call home will never be forgotten,” Independence Bank President Jacob Reid said, in a news release.

“But what we will remember most will be the strength and resilience of the residents of these hometowns and how folks from all over the state and the country have come together to help. It is truly incredible to see the generosity to rebuild and extend a hand to our neighbors. Being new to the Lexington market, this was a great opportunity to come together and connect the commonwealth in a way that offers healing and hope.”

Many communities were directly hit by the tornado, leaving at least 74 people dead and hundreds injured. It’s estimated this storm caused nearly $4 billion worth of damage and created 750,000 power outages. Now, just a few months later, it’s our hope this endeavor will help with healing in the recovery and rebuilding processes.

LexArts, Lexington’s official local arts agency, works to enhance the quality of life through the arts. Its’ Horse Mania public art project is returning in 2022 to commemorate the organization’s 50th anniversary and is presented by Keeneland and Maker’s Mark. In a unique collaboration with LexArts, Independence Bank has funded three of the 70+ life-size fiberglass horse statues, which are each scheduled to be painted and exhibited in Lexington.

“No other public art initiative in Lexington’s history has captured the hearts and imaginations of Lexingtonians and visitors like Horse Mania,” said Ame Sweetall, LexArts President and CEO. “In the days immediately following the horrific destruction in Western Kentucky, our Horse Mania team knew we had an inspiring opportunity to help heal the broken hearts that so many were suffering. LexArts is extremely honored to partner with Independence Bank to bring the healing power of the arts to these wonderful communities.”

Local Lexington artists have been selected to work with high school art students from the affected areas of Graves, Hopkins and Warren Counties to come up with colorful designs to be placed on the six feet by eight feet figures. The ten western Kentucky region area teenagers, alongside family members, have been invited to Lexington during the weekend of March 11-13 to collaborate with the artists and experience the culture of the city.

Once the horses have been painted and embellished, they will travel to each of the three affected towns for a one-day public showing. An accompanying identifying plaque will indicate the horse, artist and sponsor.

The bank-sponsored horses will be displayed in Lexington from mid-May through November, including during the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

To help raise money for storm relief, these horses will be auctioned at Keeneland— home of the largest and most prominent Thoroughbred auction house in the world. The auction is tentatively scheduled for December 10th, 2022 which, coincidentally, falls on the one-year anniversary of the massive tornado.

“As a long-time fan and supporter of LexArts, I was so excited when they reached out to us. It has been amazing to help with something that started as an idea and a phone call and grew into a beautiful project,” said Stacy Berge, Independence Bank Lexington Market President. “The response of the students has been truly heartwarming. This thoughtful and talented group of young people are taking what they know about their communities and the continuing struggle to rise from the devastation, and in collaboration with the artist, are creating lasting art installations that can inspire, lighten the heart and serve as a reminder of the strength of their towns and counties.”

Profits from the Graves County horse will be allocated to the Ice House Gallery in Mayfield to help them rebuild after being destroyed in the storm. The Warren County profits will be given to local family resource centers, and Hopkins County has chosen to help rebuild the softball and baseball fields in Dawson Springs.

The horses funded by the bank will then be permanently displayed in the storm affected areas of Graves, Hopkins and Warren Counties.

For more details and additional ways to get involved, visit the bank online at 1776bank.com/hereforgood. More information about LexArts and its initiatives, including Horse Mania, can be found at www.lexarts.org.

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