Mary Lacy, left, and Corrine Yonce will be leading the installation of a mosaic at Pliny Park in Brattleboro.
Courtesy photo
Mary Lacy, left, and Corrine Yonce will be leading the installation of a mosaic at Pliny Park in Brattleboro.

Mosaic Project takes steps toward fruition

Organizers envision a smashing success but seek donations to unlock state funding for mural at Pliny Park in Brattleboro

BRATTLEBORO-With the launch of an online fundraising campaign and two main events - a Smash Party this Saturday and a Co-creation Celebration on Saturday, April 20 - an initiative to create a mosaic mural on the vacant wall of a downtown park is becoming a reality.

The Pliny Park Mosaic Project began as the brainchild of Greg Lesch, the executive director of the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce, and Jamie Mohr, the executive director of Epsilon Spires, a not-for-profit organization housed at the former First Baptist Church on Main Street dedicated to "social impact through art and science."

Leaders for the park project, at the corner of High and Main streets, invite the community to partake, according to a news release, in "transforming the blank concrete wall [...] with beautiful original art that sparks local pride, supports cultural tourism in our region, and inspires a sense of community co-ownership of our public spaces."

With community input, the project organizers believe they "can revitalize this neglected area of downtown Brattleboro with a vibrant collaborative artwork celebrating our exceptional community."

For locals, "the mural will be a direct reminder of how we as individuals all contribute to the town's unique creative culture."

The mosaic project launched in late fall with a community gathering led by commissioned artists Mary Lacy and Corrine Yonce ["'A space for social connection and contemplation,'" Arts, Dec. 13, 2023].

Each artist has an "impressive background in creating large-scale mural projects and mosaics that involve community engagement and social practice," the release continues. The installation depends on a range of donations, from the found objects and castoffs that will compose the mural to the hands-on creation of the mosaic - an art form that dates back nearly 5,000 years.

After the initial gathering last fall, a brainstorming session yielded a theme: water.

"We have the Connecticut River, and with climate change and the flooding and how rainy it's been, water's on everyone's minds," Mohr says.

"It was really kind of fun to hear people's ideas -to hear their memories of the space - what they like about Brattleboro, how they want the mural to reflect the culture of Brattleboro and what that is for many different people," she continues.

"I love that aspect of what the finished piece will be - everyone who's contributed can come in and find their individual contributions within an entirety," Mohr says.

A big break

The next big public event is the Smash Party at Pliny Park on April 13, from 1 to 5 p.m. The press release urges participants "to donate objects and smash ceramics into pieces to be incorporated into the finished mural."

Objects can run the gamut: tiles, plates, beads, buttons, small toys, mirrors, plastic letters, personal trinkets.

"The memories and personal meanings contained within these objects," the news release projects, "will host a conversation among neighbors and strangers, creating a sense of collaboration, intimacy, discovery, and engagement within our shared public space."

"It'll be interesting to see what people bring," says Mohr, noting that a lot of "amazing" area ceramists have joined the brainstorming and will be donating "beautiful seconds."

"They want to be part of the process, to learn from the artists how the mosaic mural will be created," she says.

Mohr adds: "If it ends up raining, we might do it at Epsilon in the community space. I just really like the idea of doing it in Pliny Park because of visibility, but also so people can imagine what's going to happen. And we'll have chalk, too, so people can draw on the actual wall."

In terms of hoped-for participation, Mohr says: "I've tried to cast a pretty wide net, and hopefully it'll reverberate through other peoples' channels."

People are "excited by the cathartic idea of the smashing party," she says, "but I think they're also excited about the idea of incorporating things that have personal meaning into the wall, like a piece of favorite pottery that's chipped, but that has a memory attached. We've gotten quite a bit of enthusiastic response so far."

Following the smash party, which Lacy will guide, the public co-creation celebration on Saturday, April 20, from 2 to 5 p.m., will be, Mohr says, "where the artists will show people how to take the tiling and create designs that will later be added to the wall."

She describes it as "a different kind of event," but says that the artists have found with past projects that "it's very meditative, and people begin talking and relating, so that'll be a very socially cohesive experience."

"We will have tables set up at Epsilon Spires so folks can sit and converse while sorting," she says.

"Part of the inspiration for the project is that [Pliny Park] is a little foreboding right now," Mohr notes. "If more people come in to enjoy it, it will be something for everyone. And [the mosaic mural] might change the character and the feel of it."

Overcoming 'weird hurdles'

The wall, which previously boasted a mural by area artist Terry Sylvester, "is owned by the Chamber of Commerce, which has given us their blessing as a partner. The Chamber is very supportive," Mohr says.

Pliny Park itself is owned by the town's Recreation & Parks Department, which has enforced permitting and fee requirements - what Mohr describes as "weird hurdles that make it harder for people to have an impact."

"But I want this to at least be an example that things can get done and you can push through, and then hopefully it'll be like the High Street Mural," Mohr says, referencing the 2022 community mural project on the nearby retaining wall. "People loved that so much - even folks who were critical of the idea have come around to be supportive and are really happy it happened."

Mohr says that if all goes as planned and the needed funds are raised, the process will be completed in June, when Lacy and Yonce will co-create the mosaic mural with the objects donated, smashed, sorted, and arranged by the public.

For Brattleboro's July Gallery Walk, Mohr adds, "we'll do kind of an unofficial ribbon-cutting celebration."

More than 280 have signed up to participate, "so if each of them gave 20 bucks we'd be over our goal of $7,986."

As of April 8, 26% of that goal has been met.

Mohr hopes to see donations of any amount at each upcoming event.

Through a Better Places grant from the state Agency of Commerce and Community Development, every donation is doubly matched, meaning that a $25 gift becomes $75 - and a big boon to the Brattleboro community spirit and aesthetic.

And, says Mohr in the release, "there are some fun perks for each giving level, ranging from stickers, mail art, and screen prints to sponsoring an 8-by-8 inch tile or special message."

"We are trying to get everyone to donate, because if we don't reach the goal, it won't happen," Mohr warns.

"And I'll have lots of pieces of broken ceramics [to deal with]," she adds with a laugh.

To donate to the mural project, visit For more on this project and the work and programming of Epsilon Spires, visit

This News item by Annie Landenberger was written for The Commons.

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