Western sculptor Vic Payne reflects on MSU Texas project

Dr. Johnston's vision became The Spirit of the Mustangs

Vic Payne was born in Texas, and his works live in the Lone Star State, as well as many other places throughout the West.

The noted western sculptor and artist had a chance to appreciate his latest work, the Spirit of the Mustangs display, at the grand opening of Centennial Hall at Midwestern State University on Sept. 6, 2019.

The Spirit of Mustangs is four Mustangs representing each classification. Completing that task was a team effort as Payne sculpted the statues into the vision of Dr. James Johnston, the MSU Texas Provost.

“With the unveiling of this monument, we begin a new MSU Texas tradition,” Johnston said. “This monument represents the educational journey.”

Payne said it’s the studio, not the spotlight where he’s most comfortable, but he enjoyed the chance to celebrate at Centennial Hall.

“First off, I was thinking, how can I do these horses to look like different age groups?” Payne said. “But (Dr. Johnston) helped me a lot; he had a vision.”

The water feature itself represents the educational process, fluid, and changing, but a path of lifelong learning. Each horse represents a class rank beginning with the freshman horse about to take the first step, then the sophomore horse, junior horse, and finally, the senior horse leaping out of the water.

“When a project is done, and everyone is happy, it’s a big relief,” Payne said. “It’s like all the responsibility leaves your mind. I’ve never had a bad experience. But it’s a relief when everyone is happy, and then it’s time to go do another (project)."

“He had said to me when we first started working on it that they may not remember his name, but they’ll see that work,” Johnston said.

There’s also a feeling of “deep satisfaction” on completion, Payne said. “It makes you think this is going to be around with my name on it for a long time, so I’m going to work harder on every project to get better. It’s kind of cool because they’ll be around, maybe a thousand years.”

Which Mustang was the toughest to sculpt? “The senior, because he’s down a little bit (in the display), but he’s pretty big in the studio,” Payne said. “In the studio, he’s up a foot higher, so you’re way up there.”

Payne was born in San Angelo and spent his early years on the family ranch learning to ride horses and fly airplanes. His works can be found in private, corporate, and municipal museum collections in the United States and abroad. Learn more about the western artist at vicpaynestudio.com.


MSU Texas administrators welcomed partners and local politicians to the grand opening of Centennial Hall in 2019
MSU Texas administrators welcomed partners and local politicians to the grand opening of Centennial Hall in 2019. (A J Lopez III/MSU Texas)
The Spirit of the Mustangs horses
 The Spirit of the Mustangs was completed by sculptor Vic Payne of Wyoming in 2019. (A J Lopez III/MSU) 


Related Links

Welcome to the Spirit of the Mustangs
The Mustangs' story start to finish