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Artist's Corner: Local Painter Uses Work for Special Cause

By Talbert Toole
Lifestyles Editor

Emory Ryals art pieces are currently on display at Uptown Coffee—located at North Square Oxford—until August 24. Photo by Talbert Toole.

Although she was timid expressing herself through art in her younger years, artist Emory Ryals has made a name for herself through her use of color, wood accents and generous donations to the Oxford Special Needs Creations.
Originally from Clarksdale, Mississippi, Ryals moved to Oxford nine years ago not knowing her childhood passion for art would lead to her own business.
Ryals said she always had the desire to create, which first began with her passion for poetry. However, due to her shy personality, Ryals never fully delved into her artistic expression.
“My creativeness developed once I got to college because I was more exposed to art,” she said.
While attending The University of Mississippi, Ryals was roommates with Morgan Fyfe—a former local artist who now resides in Seattle.
“I have a lot of failed paintings but a lot of successful paintings that worked in the moment,” Ryals said. Photo by Talbert Toole.

Fyfe’s creativity and painting sparked Ryals’ inner artistry to finally sit down and begin painting, she said.
The creative process for artists can sometimes be chaotic. However, Ryals steps into the atmosphere each time with a present mindset in order to bring inspiration to her nontraditional canvas—wood—and paint with her artistic style, which she described as “abstract expressionist.”
“I have a lot of failed paintings but a lot of successful paintings that worked in the moment,” she said. “It’s just like learning…I feel like I have grown over the past two years.”
Ryals said it’s taken her those years to learn how to overcome the fear of the unknown result of her artwork. Now that she has conquered that fear, she experiences a rewarding feeling when she completes a painting.
Magnets for a Cause
After finding small wooden pieces at Hobby Lobby, Ryals decided to paint on a miniature scale and turn her art into magnets. She said she knows many people cannot afford to buy large pieces of art, but the magnets would allow more patrons to be able to take a piece home.
Recently, her art has taken on an even more meaningful role. Graduating this past May with a degree in special education, Ryals was introduced to Angie Box who works with the Oxford Special Needs Creations—an organization that “helps those with disabilities or special needs reach their highest functional level to best participate in their community.”
Having a passion for students with special needs, Ryals decided this was a perfect opportunity to be able to give back to a cause that aligns with her career goals. 
She donates 100 percent of the profits from her magnets to Oxford Special Needs Creations.
All proceeds from Ryals’ buttons benefit the Oxford Special Needs Creations. Photo courtesy of Emory Ryals.

“Art is my passion, but special education and teaching comes first for me,” she said.
Ryals’ artwork is now on display inside Uptown Coffee—located at Oxford Square North—until August 24.
She stood proudly beside her art Tuesday evening as Oxonians traveled throughout the coffee shop on the Oxford Art Crawl route.
“Looking back at these past nine years, I would have never imagined having my artwork hanging in [Uptown] where I used to get my cinnamon rolls,” she said.
For more information on Emory Ryals and her artwork, visit her website here.

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