EKPHRASIS 2017: An Exploration of Mind, Body, Soul

(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, Gracie Arias shares her thoughts as a writer participating in EKPHRASIS.  “Steve and Angie” she mentions are Steve and Angie Veracruz, two of the organizers of EKPHRASIS.  – ALW)

By Gracie Arias

I met Steve and Angie through my husband, about 3 years ago. When they first approached us with the idea for Ekphrasis in 2016, my husband asked me to pair up with him and be the writer for his piece.

I used to write poetry in high school and even competed a couple of times, I reluctantly said “yes.” This has been so wonderful for us as a husband and wife. We were able to team up in a way we never have before and now we are doing our second Ekphrasis.

I’m so excited to see the community gather once again, especially with a topic such as this one. Mental illness runs rampant. It has no specifics of gender, race, age or religion and belief.

Since I was a small child I’ve dealt with these issues first hand. It was somewhat nerve racking to submit this poem. I write about my hurts and experiences first hand. No denying, no third person. ME! Many people close to me don’t even know some of those things about me. But I felt I had to be raw and honest, vulnerable. This was my chance to use my hurts and my depression, my being suicidal and feeling alone, as my platform.

If my message can help at least one person know they aren’t alone and that there is hope, then it’s worth it. I do put my beliefs into the mix because it’s who I am. I know not all share those beliefs and I’m respectful towards that, but I have to share it because it’s a part of my story. It has been the only thing that’s helped me make it through.

I am grateful for this opportunity and I believe people should make the effort to come support all the artist and writers. It’s hard putting yourself out there, but when there is a community willing to open their hearts and minds to these issues, it makes it so much better. What better experience than using your talent, your ability to bring a light to such a dark topic.


EKPHRASIS is a FREE walkable art exhibition.  The works are on display in 14 storefront windows of Downtown Waco’s newly established Cultural Arts District, between 6th and 8th streets on Austin and Washington Avenues.  The art and words will be on display starting First Friday, November 3. Saturday, November 4 from 5pm – 8:00pm, at the Austin’s on the Avenue Patio (719 Austin Ave.) there will be an Opening Event with poetry readings, performances, and mental health talks from organizations in our community.


Gracie Arias is 27 years old. She is a stay at home mom and wife, who is still chasing dreams and supporting her husband through his dream chasing.  She has been married for 9 years to her wonderful, supportive husband, Carlos Arias. They have three beautiful children, Serena(8), Anabella (5), and Jose (1). She says of her writing, “After writing poetry to help with some of the painful things I experienced as a child, I realized how much it truly helped me in my healing process.”

he Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

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