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The Brother Thomas Fellowship Awards

Br Thomas Fellows photo
Bernie Pucker surrounded by Brother Thomas Fellows: (Front row, from left): filmmaker Alla Kovgan, poet Barbara Helfgott Hyett, Bernie Pucker, jeweler Heather White, video artist Brian Knep. (Back, from left): filmmaker and playwright John Oluwole ADEkoje, composer Kati Agócs, poet Richard Hoffman and documentary filmmaker Tracy Heather Strain.
Fellow film photo Br Thomas photo

(Above left) Guests viewed films and videos created by Brother Thomas Fellows.  (Top photo.)  Brother Thomas is credited with elevating the status of ceramics from craft to fine art in the U.S. with the extraordinary quality of his work and artistic vision.

Toward the end of his life, Brother Thomas, a Benedictine monk and world-renowned ceramic artist who died in 2007, joined forces with his friends Bernie and Sue Pucker, owners of Boston’s Pucker Gallery, to create a legacy that would benefit other artists through the sale of his work.

This fall, their vision came to fruition at a special event held at the Boston Foundation to celebrate the first nominees and recipients of the Brother Thomas Fellowship Awards—designed to recognize artists working at a high level of excellence and creativity. Eight local artists received no-strings-attached $15,000 fellowships from the Boston Foundation. The fellowships will be presented every two years and are made possible by the Brother Thomas Fund, supplemented by grants from the Boston Foundation's Permanent Fund for Boston, a special endowment fund that supports the Foundation's grantmaking in Greater Boston.

“Artists enrich our community in innumerable ways,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation, welcoming those gathered. “And this an opportunity to give something back in a way that honors the memory of an exceptional man who knew all too well the challenges of being an artist.”

Bernie Pucker, who was a close friend of Brother Thomas, spoke next. “He would have been delighted,” he said, referring to Brother Thomas. “He believed that there is a unity of creativity among all artists that transcends the differences in the mediums. We thank the Boston Foundation for embracing this idea and making it happen.”

Ann McQueen, Boston Foundation Senior Program Officer, explained that the 55 Brother Thomas Fellowship nominees were chosen by anonymous nominators and final selections were made by a seven-member panel. “This is the best part of what was a long, hard process,” she said. “All of the nominees are outstanding artists. There are very few awards that are designed to support individual artists, and we’re proud that the Boston Foundation is able to honor these talented artists in this way.” 

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