Pikeville artist brings ‘Mountain Mona Lisa’ to Second Street Arts Project

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 6:44 PM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - A new mural in Pikeville is celebrating Appalachian culture and shining a light on a local artist.

Austin Casebolt, a Pikeville native, was recently accepted into the Masters of Fine Arts program at the Parsons School of Design/The New School in New York. While pursuing his education in art, he continues to use his passion for the mountains to create works like “Woman With a Cardinal,” a painting that found its home Wednesday on the walls of a building on Pikeville’s Second Street.

“Pikeville, Kentucky is the place that built me. And I’m really proud of that,” Casebolt said. “This piece was about giving back to the community in a way that brought joy and that reminded people of the dignity that exists from being from this wonderful, wonderful area.”

The painting shows a woman, holding a cardinal, covered in a garment of Appalachian imagery. Casebolt said it is his answer to the way the rest of the world views Appalachian people as modern Americans. He said many people are calling her “Mountain Mona Lisa.”

He wanted the imagery, from the state bird to the state flower, to melt into the woman, making a tapestry to represent the many facets of the mountains that make the people of Eastern Kentucky who they are.

“Of course, the mountains, if you look closely, have continued, and hopefully will continue to build us into the people that we’ve become,” he said.

As he moves to New York to follow his passion, he hopes others will follow theirs.

”We’re all really hopeful that we get to see an entire ally full of just beautiful art that explains the narratives and the nuances: What it means to be a person from Eastern Kentucky,” Casebolt said. “Keep it weird. You know, look at different mediums and look at different ways and styles to express yourself.”

Casebolt was the first artist to put his mark on the ally. But, according to Pikeville Main Street Director Minta Trimble, it will soon display more art and an umbrella roof project as the city works to highlight other artists like Casebolt during its Second Street renovations.

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