EKPHRASIS 2017: Doors

(Last year the Central Texas Artist Collective (CTAC) organized an exhibit downtown called EKPHRASIS. It was an exhibit of art and words.  Local poets and artists were paired up to create art and poetry together that was then placed on exhibit in downtown Waco. 

This year the EKPHRASIS theme is An Exploration of Mind, Body, Soul.  It takes a deeper look at mental health and illness, grief and loss, trauma, recovery, and healing. The hope for this mental health exhibition is to encourage dialogue stimulated by the 19 Artists and Writer’s ekphrastic displays, to destigmatize misconceptions, and to cultivate an empathic understanding of one another. 

In today’s blog post, our blogger, Becky Charles shares her thoughts as a visual artist participating in EKPHRASIS. – ALW)

By Becky Charles

Last year wandering around downtown Waco I came across the EKPHRASIS exhibit by chance.

I was just taking a walk after dinner and saw all the beautiful art and poetry that was created by our community and I was in awe.  I never imagined I would participate in this type of event.

This spring a friend asked for people to sign up for EKPHRASIS as a birthday gift to her.  I thought it was a wonderful birthday wish and I signed up!

I know Jamie Graham through my friendship with her daughter who I met over 25 years ago.  She found out I was participating she suggested we collaborate.  EEEEE!! I was so excited to create something with her because she is such a creative and amazing person, but I had zero ideas on WHAT to create.  My mind was blank.

I might have panicked a little and had a “what was I thinking signing up for this?!?!” moment.  I’ve never created art for public viewing nor collaborated with another artist in this way.  I’m more of a background volunteer type of person who helps set up, clean up, anything needed to help an event run smoothly.  I make art all the time at home to keep or give away as gifts but don’t consider myself an “artist;” it’s just for fun.

Jamie and I met for lunch and there I sat with a brain full of empty.  Jamie said she could write a poem inspired by my artwork or I could create art inspired by one of her poems.  Since my mind was literally a blank canvas at that point I asked if she could write first and I would create whatever her writing inspired me to.  She had a piece she was working on and prefaced it with a very personal story.

I’ve known Jamie most of my life as my friend’s mom, someone to look up to, a mentor, an influence on my development from a teenager to a grown woman, a mother to not only her daughter but to all of us who spent time in her house growing up.   She began reading her poem and in that moment I saw her on even ground.  At this point in life we are both mothers.  In her story of life struggles and her poetry, I saw parts of myself…a woman/mother/person who just wants a moment of peace so she hides in a bathroom behind a locked door.  How doors can become barriers or we can open them to freedom.  How comforting it can be to isolate yourself at times but then how quickly that isolation can feel like you’re trapped.  That we hold the key to the doors we create for ourselves. As Jamie read her poem to me in that restaurant, I saw the art come to life.  I was moved to tears by her words and what I envisioned for the art to go with them.

Our creation is simply titled “Doors.”  I saw parts of myself in her poem and if you look closely, you will see part of yourself in the art inspired by her words.

Becky Charles is a Waco native who works for a local mental health clinic.  She enjoys spending time with her family, volunteering together for community events, and supporting local businesses, artists, and musicians.  She creates many forms of art in her spare time for family and friends but this is her first time to have art on public display.






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