The “Build Hope Not Walls’ Exhibit and Fundraiser was created by Nick Ramos, a Brazilian immigrant living in Georgetown. Nick’s aim was to bring artists to create an exhibit that helps support immigrants and refugees. Each of the total 150 artists created a brick representing their individuality. Each brick was a unique work of art, and a reminder of how everyone has something unique to contribute to society.

When the bricks were finally assembled, the gallery turned out looking absolutely stunning! The event also created an opportunity for Casa residents to be involved. In the words of our ESL Coordinator:

“It was wonderful that the gallery was so close to Casa Marianella, as many residents and staff got to interact with the art in person. We were inspired by the different ways that the artists deconstructed walls that are meant to keep refugees separate, out of view, and pushed away, and transformed them into instruments and celebrations of community, creativity, connection, solidarity, value, love, and hope. I loved hearing our residents talk about the meaning they found in different bricks and why certain bricks were their favorites. It was also humbling–and exciting–to know that the art was created, curated, and auctioned for the benefit of refugees in Austin.

At the exhibit, we began talking about what we would want to communicate (and transform) along the same lines, through words, art, and other forms of expression. This past week, students created and presented poems that described their home countries they needed to flee. Inspired by this project, we plan to create some art on some of the concrete blocks that form the walls of our community room. Nick Ramos offered to visit our classes to discuss the Build Hope, Not Walls project, too–hooray!

What a powerful project! We are thankful for Nick, the artists, our colleagues in sister organizations, and those in the Austin community who are investing their gifts, resources, and labor on behalf of refugees and immigrants.”

Ariana Wolman, our Grants Manager’s daughter, was also very touched during the event:

“The evening started out nice. People clustered around the building looking at the beautiful bricks and talking. The food and drinks were great. In the middle of the event [the creator of Build Hope Not Walls] Nick Ramos, made a touching speech. He came to America from Brazil on a visa. He faced a lot of prejudice against immigrants. Many of us shed tears that day. He had a standing ovation from the crowd. RST, American gateways, and Casa Marianella [also] made speeches.”

Ariana (12 years old) also shared some of her photos with us from the exhibit!

The event took place the 13-15th of October at the Big Medium, “a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting contemporary art in Texas.” Nick and his team raised $26,640.00 in support of immigrants and refugees!

To read more about the Build Hope Not Walls Project, check out: or visit their Facebook page at:

Photo Credit: ESL Coordinator and Ariana Wolman