“No tengo miedo del mañana, porque he visto el ayer y amo el hoy.”
This Spanish translation of a quote by Emporia hero William Allen White became the guiding inspiration for a small mural project I led with Emporia State and local high school students earlier in April.
In English it reads, “I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.” With a natural inclination to remembering the future, I was captivated by the time bending nature of this vision. White was also the writer I quoted as the preface to a talk I gave at the University last year - “If our colleges and universities do not breed men (and women) who riot, who rebel, who attack life with all the youthful vim and vigor, then there is something wrong with our colleges. The more riots that come on college campuses, the better world for tomorrow.” Encouraging the student body to riot (creatively) via the words of the town’s undisputed hero. Yes.
The mural project was coordinated by Assistant Professor of Ceramics, Stephanie Lanter, who along with our design team explored lesser known aspects of the community that is best known these days for the Dirty Kanza bike race, the Flint Hills and the Glass Blown Open disc golf championship. We researched the origin of one of Emporia’s most beloved parks, named Peter Pan inmemory of William Allen White’s daughter Mary, and Maud Wagner, the first widely acknowledged female tattoo artist in the U.S. We also talked a lot about downtown’s efforts at revitalization, and a perceived division (marked by the railroad tracks) between Emporia’s white and Hispanic communities.
The wall was situated, conveniently, in the Mulready’s Pub beer garden. Proprietor Rick Becker, a generous supporter of the arts, was also one of our most committed painters.
This project has already helped spur two new mural projects in Emporia that will take place this summer, one with Painting Professor Derek Wilkinson’s class at the local police station and another led by our mural apprentice Itzel Lopez for the Emporia State Library.
Thanks to everyone at Emporia State, Mulready’s and the community of Emporia for supporting the project and helping create the mural. And a special debt of gratitude goes out to mural apprentice Itzel Lopez and assistant Nicholas Ward.