Emporians are served on the first Friday of each month, with monthly art galleries scattered throughout campus and downtown that host Emporia First Friday Art Walk. Behind every sculpture, painting and mixed-media installation there is a story to tell.
Retired Seaman Gary Van Syoc displayed his miniaturized Navy deck gun replica at the annual Veterans Art Show held at the Emporia Arts Center. Gary was inspired to make his replica guns, of which he has several, out of a pure desire to own one.
“I went to all the museums when I lived in DC for a few years and I saw these guns and here I am, a Kansas hayseed, and I wanted a real gun, but I couldn’t afford one. My brother was a machinist, I’m a woodworker and I said let’s make us a couple of naval deck (guns),” Van Syoc said.
But his art is not just for display: it also works.
“Now we have two of them, we have six barrels. And it shoots. Kicks back about four feet,” he said.
Inspiration for the art exhibited in Emporia on Nov. 3ranged from the practical to the philanthropic.
Artist Deon Morrow is a board member of the nonprofit House of Morrow, which seeks to empower local Emporians through artistic expression.
“I grew up here, I have a really strong love for our community, and I’m an artist,” Morrow said. “My community has allowed me to do amazing things, and the only way I know how to give back without giving millions of dollars is to incorporate art and help people feel pride in our city. And it’s not that hard. Art as a tool for education and inclusivity is the best way to do that.”
House of Morrow’s next service project will help students at Walnut Elementary use art to express what they want to see in the Emporia community.
“We get in touch with the kids who are going to take over Emporia, and if we can give them pride, they can tell us what they want and we can help them implement it. If they build it, they’ll probably do not leave it.”
For more information about House of Morrow, you can visit their Instagram @hom.thehouseofmorrow.