Three EKU professors selected for unique residency program, The Art of Goodwill

RICHMOND, KY—Goodwill Industries of Kentucky held a statewide open call for artists February 1 – March 15 for The Art of Goodwill Residency Program, which provides selected Kentucky artists the opportunity to transform items donated to Goodwill into works of art. Goodwill received nearly 40 applicants—and through a competitive, juried process—ten artists were selected and announced, including three Richmond residents: Benjamin Cirgin, Shannon McCarthy, and Melissa Vandenberg. All three artists are professors at Eastern Kentucky University.

Benjamin Cirgin
Cirgin earned his BFA in fine art from Indiana University Bloomington and his MFA in studio art from California College of the Arts in San Francisco, California. Cirgin has held numerous solo and group exhibitions in the field of art and ceramics, while serving as an advising board member for the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts. He also co-founded the artist collective One + One + Two in San Francisco, California. Cirgin is currently Ceramics Area Head and Assistant Professor of Ceramics at Eastern Kentucky University in the Department of Art and Design.

“As one of this year’s Art of Goodwill residents, I am excited to have the opportunity to utilize consumer objects donated to Goodwill in my studio practice,” Cirgin said. “The residency will provide a new source of research for my artwork: as I have a deep respect for the types of objects people choose and discard in their lives.”   

McCarthy earned her BFA in applied media art from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania before earning her MFA in visual communications from Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Since 2016, McCarthy has worked at Eastern Kentucky University as Assistant Professor of Graphic Design. Additionally, for the past seven years, she has served as Creator for NO AWAY, an awareness campaign about plastic consumption, working with youths and individuals across the nation. McCarthy is a member of American Institute of Graphic Arts, American Advertising Federation, and Southeastern College Art Conference.

Shannon McCarthy

“I am honored and excited to be a part of The Art of the Goodwill and to help show Kentucky how design and up-cycling can work together to create a new perspective,” said McCarthy.

Melissa Vandenberg

Melissa Vandenberg is a multidisciplinary artist and educator based in Richmond, Kentucky. Her creative practice investigates an increasingly divisive political landscape using national identity, folk art, immigration, and the perception of a “homeland” as points of departure. She employs commonplace materials like textiles, quilts, matches, wood, and other domicile objects to make. She has exhibited in Canada, Germany, Luxembourg, Iceland, Sweden, and extensively throughout the United States. She received a BFA from Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan and an MFA from Southern Illinois University. Melissa is represented by Maus Contemporary in Birmingham, AL.

“The Goodwill model is the epitome of sustainability, not only environmentally, but financially. At a time when more and more Americans recognize the obstacles created by debt and overabundance, the Goodwill mission becomes ever more crucial. As an artist interested in community engagement and social practice, I share these values.”

The residency program gives selected Kentucky artists access to Goodwill’s 65 stores to collect materials for creating art. Artists selected for the program receive a stipend funded by Goodwill through program sponsors. Event proceeds will support Goodwill’s fundraising goals to connect Kentuckians with opportunities to work their way out of poverty.

Additionally, the residency program taps into the creativity of Kentucky artists to inspire people to reflect upon their consumption habits and the power of transformation. Each year, Goodwill repurposes or recycles 50 million pounds of used goods.

For more information about the event, visit Tickets will be available for purchase beginning in June.


The Art of Goodwill is a program featuring innovative opportunities for artist residencies, culminating with an art exhibition and event. The annual event supports the mission of Goodwill and will take place Saturday, November 16, 2019 at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.

The inaugural 2018 event drew 300 attendees and raised more than $60,000 to support Goodwill’s mission to connect Kentucky job seekers with meaningful employment. Twenty-eight works of art—sourced from items found in Goodwill stores—sold, ranging in price from $30 to $900.


In the 2018 fiscal year, Goodwill placed Kentuckians into more than 2,700 jobs across the state—both inside and outside of Goodwill. Goodwill’s career path programs and employment services, which serve Kentuckians who have disabilities or other challenges, are funded through a combination of grants, corporate and individual giving, and its retail stores, which sell donated clothing and household items at 65 locations across Kentucky.