COLUMBIA — While Stephen R. Feilbach took a photo of his more than six-foot-tall gnome on MU's Francis Quadrangle on Friday, curious passersby asked Feilbach about his creation. Some stopped to take photos and others just chuckled as they continued on their way.
“People are tremendously intrigued,” he said of the gnome he carved out of Styrofoam. “The character of the gnome already has a following. People recognize it.”
Feilbach, 40, a Columbia artist, is used to the attention his gigantic gnome gets. He has driven across Missouri in his green pickup truck with the words “Facebook Gnome Nation” scrawled in yellow paint on the sides and back of the truck and the giant gnome strapped to the truck's bed. His goal, he said, is to use the gnome to make people laugh and "let go."
“Embrace it,” he said. “When it comes to creativity, it’s all about being and never losing that kid inside you. I’m a big 5-year-old.”
Eventually, Feilbach hopes to create a bunch of smaller gnomes and place them along Interstate 70 so people can find them, share their story on the Gnome Nation Facebook page, spread joy and help Gnome Nation grow.
The Gnome Nation Facebook page features Feilbach's many gnome creations — some made of Styrofoam, others made of wood — and the places they have been. The page also features a place for others to post about their encounters with Feilbach's gnomes.
“I want to start making T-shirts, maybe draw cartoons,” he said. “There are so many possibilities with this.”