Artist uses his talents to paint popular chicken at Eastern College

Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Artist Kelson Thorne stands beside "Henrietta," the chicken he recently painted for Eastern W.Va. Community & Technical College.

MOOREFIELD – Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College’s eight-foot chicken statue was recently painted by local artist Kelson Thorne.

The statue, named “Henrietta” by Eastern president Dr. Charles Terrell, was one of Kelson’s many recent mural projects completed over the summer and fall. The statue overlooks Corridor H on the north end of Eastern’s campus, welcoming travelers to the Poultry Capital of West Virginia. 

Thorne is a graduate of West Virginia University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in painting in December 2019. He now works as a recovery specialist at the Potomac Highlands Guild.

Over the summer, Thorne initiated a project to create murals in Grant, Pendleton, Hardy, and Mineral counties, using positive slogans and promoting healthy lifestyles in the community. Kelson has painted murals across the Potomac Highlands in addition to the statue at Eastern, including Queen’s Point Coffee in Keyser, the City Pool in Petersburg, and the newly restored Petersburg High School Field House and Locker Room.

When asked about his thoughts on the project, Kelson said, "I was very excited to paint a statue, especially a huge chicken."

The project was made possible by a generous donation from Pilgrim’s Pride.

Kelson incorporated his unique style to the statue painting, using both brushes and spray paint to create his vision. When asked to describe his artistic style in an interview for Eastern’s Art Society Publication, the Eagle’s Nest, Kelson said “A lot of the time I find when I’m painting, the artwork seems to create itself. Most of my work incorporates the subconscious mind; it allows me to paint more freely. I like to be expressive with the medium. However, pop culture seems to be a trend I have always followed in art. I want to bring an expressive element to Pop Art. With social media and technological advances, American pop culture has influenced me greatly, I like to convey these personal connections with expressive painting. If I had to coin a term for my current trend/movement it would be called ‘Pop Expressionism.’”  

Featured in the painting are Eastern’s, Pilgrim’s Pride’s, and Kelson’s personal logos. The statue required mostly spray paint due to the rigid nature of the chicken’s features.

Kelson has been active within the Eastern community, having his work displayed during a solo exhibition at Eastern’s Eagle’s Nest Gallery on the main campus in February. Kelson hopes to continue with his indoor and outdoor mural project and continue exhibiting locally.