Vessels for Change: Area Artists Rally to Support the Berkshire Immigrant Center

52 Artists – 100 Mugs – 1 Cause

Berkshires, MA __ In October, more than 50 area artists are joining their creative forces to make 100 hand-painted ceramic mugs in support of the Berkshire Immigrant Center.  The project, Vessels for Change, will culminate in a celebration at Bright Ideas Brewing on the MASS MoCA campus in North Adams on Wednesday, November 15from 7-9 pm.

For a $100 donation to the Berkshire Immigrant Center donors will receive a one-of-a-kind handmade mug, locally brewed beer, and a celebration. To make a donation and reserve a mug, visit:

Ceramic artist Stephanie Boyd, one of the event organizers, was inspired after a recent mini-fundraiser she held on Facebook shortly after the events at Charlottesville. She made six mugs, posted them for $100 each with the intent of donating 100% to the Southern Poverty Law Center. She sold out within a few hours. The success of that project led her to create something larger to benefit a local organization.

“The response from our community has been inspiring,” says Boyd. “Virtually everyone asked to participate responded with enthusiasm.  And the donations are already pouring in.” She continues, “Our community wants to do something positive to provide some counterpoint to the negativity we see in the news everyday.”

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Five ceramic artists, Boyd, Suzy Konecky, Amrita Lash, and Phil and Gail Sellers, are making the mugs and artists including the likes of Danny O., Amy Podmore, John MacDonald, Michael Oatman, Tracy Baker-White and many more, (full list below) are painting the mugs in the potters’ studios.

“Opening our studio for artists to come and paint has been a treat. We have already had a few days where there were several artists painting at the same time,” says Gail Sellers of River Hill Pottery.  “There is so much enthusiasm,” she adds.

Vessels for Change aims to raise $10,000, equivalent to approximately 5% of the Berkshire Immigrant Center’s annual budget.

“This is a critical and difficult time for many in our immigrant and refugee communities and we are so grateful that our community is coming together to support them and our work,” says Brooke Mead, Director of the Berkshire Immigrant Center.  
She continues, “We have just hired two new caseworkers to meet the ever-expanding need for our legal immigration counseling for the thousands of immigrants in the Berkshires. This wonderful creative initiative will bring a much-needed influx of funds to support our work and training for our new staff that is critically needed.”

And, added Mead, “We are enormously appreciative and humbled by a grassroots effort to support us financially so that we can keep our attention on our mission – directly helping immigrants.”

The mission of the Berkshire Immigrant Center is to assist individuals and families in making the economic, psychological, and cultural adjustments to a new land.  Each year they provide assistance to over 800 individuals from more than 80 countries.  Their work navigating the complex U.S. immigration system, promoting civic engagement, and facilitating cultural integration is invaluable. By helping immigrants meet their basic needs, and supporting them in their efforts to become active participants in our community, the Center builds bridges of understanding and cooperation across cultures. Their work results in strengthened communities, reunited families, refugees protected, higher employment income, and economic self-sufficiency for newcomers.

The participating artists are a “who’s who” of the local creative economy and includes: William Archer, Tracy Baker-White, Renée Bouchard, Keith Bona, Stephanie Boyd, Sharon Carson, Jana Christy, Deb Coombs, Phyllis Criddle, Richard Criddle, Arthur DeBow, Zoe Doucette, Mike Glier, Brandon Graving, Suzy Helme, Jane Hudson, Frank Jackson, Ellen Joffe-Halpern, Joanna Klain, Alison Kolesar, Suzy Konecky, David Lane, Amrita Lash, John MacDonald, Sarah McNair, Anna Moriarty-Lev, Mark Mulherin, Karl Mullen, Mary Natalizia, Dawn Nelson, Danny O, Michael Oatman, Linda O’Brien, Opie O’Brien, Derek Parker, Doug Paisley, Amy Podmore, Maggi Randall, John Recco, Michele Ridgeway, Wilma Rifkin, Bill Riley, Anne Rocklein, Eric Rudd, Greg Scheckler, Ann Scott, Gail Sellers, Phil Sellers, Karin Stack, Diane Sullivan, Sandra Thomas, Betty Vera

The event organizers are Stephanie Boyd, Gail Sellers, Phil Sellers, Suzy Konecky, Laura Christensen, Orion Howard, Amrita Lash, Sandra Thomas

Sponsors/Supporters:  Bright Ideas Brewing, Williamstown Community Chest, Sheffield Pottery

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