Waco in the Palm of Your Hands
By Caitlin Giddens
You can hold a piece of Waco in your hands. Creative Waco has released a deck of playing cards called “Waco 52.” Each card captures the spirit of Waco and McLennan County by featuring a piece created by a local artist. The Waco 52 cards are currently for sale, and each purchase supports new arts and cultural initiatives in our community.
Waco 52 began as an art exhibit displayed in the lower rotunda of the Texas State Capitol Building in May. This exhibit served as part of the celebration of Waco’s designation as a State Cultural District and resulted from an invitation from State Representatives Charles “Doc” Anderson and Kyle Kacal. The project united different parts of the community by featuring the original artwork beside quotes from local businesses and leaders who support the arts.
To compile the exhibition, Creative Waco called for submissions from local artists at the beginning of the year. Then, Martha Peters, vice president of public arts at the Arts Council for Fort Worth, and Sarah Derrick, head of learning at Dundee Contemporary Arts in Scotland, judged and selected the pieces over the course of several months. The judges looked for high-quality art that depicted Waco and conveyed the power of its growing creative sector.
The deck of cards features a diverse cross-section of the many cultures, generations, and perspectives that enrich our community. It also serves as an offering of hospitality that conveys all are welcome here. Within the deck of cards, each suit reveals a different aspect of Waco’s “personality.” The hearts speak of our passions; the clubs tell the story of our town’s history and landscape. The spades depict the earth and the work to be done; and the diamonds reveal some hidden gems that locals will love to see.
As Fiona Bond, Executive Director of Creative Waco, says in the introduction to the exhibit catalogue:
“Waco 52 marks with pride the launch of Waco as one of the State of Texas’ newly designated Cultural Districts, and it is symbolic of a community that has come together to support the growing identity of Waco as a vibrant hub for artistic and cultural excellence.
Behind every one of these artworks is a story that captures something of the distinctive spirit of our remarkable community. Here you will find celebrity photographers; rising stars of the international art world; educators dedicated to inspiring the next generation of creative minds, young artists and designers just starting their careers; master craftspeople bringing relevance to ancient skills; and the only US-based artist who designs for the Paris fashion house, Hermes. They represent the diversity, passion and talent that characterize Waco at this time.”
Waco residents will have an opportunity to see the full exhibition and meet the artists when it opens in Waco in August. In the meantime, learn more about the artwork, the stories behind the art, find local vendors, or purchase a deck of cards, by visiting creativewaco.org/waco52.
Caitlin Giddens is a local English teacher and writer. She graduated from Baylor University’s Honors College in 2013. When she’s not teaching or writing, she enjoys leading yoga and barre classes at Yoga Pod Waco.