The annual event, now in its 10th year, will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, April 19, at First Presbyterian Church, 1015 5th Ave.
Empty Bowls is a national initiative, said Jaye Ike, special projects coordinator for Marshall’s College of Fine Arts. For a $12 donation, people will receive a modest soup lunch and leave with a handmade ceramic bowl, with all proceeds donated to the Huntington Area Food Bank. Participants pick their one-of-a-kind bowl, and go through a soup line. The lunch is intended to be modest as a reminder to participants that many people in the Tri-State area go hungry.
Erin Highlander, director of Development for Huntington Area Food Bank, said, “Each dollar raised by Empty Bowls will go towards purchasing food for families and children at risk of hunger. The food bank is able to purchase 10 pounds of food for every dollar.”
“Empty Bowls increases awareness of hunger and how important the issue of hunger has become,” Ike said. “One out of four children and one out of six adults are at risk of hunger nationally and those numbers are even greater here in our region.”
“While the lunch is intended to be modest, the generosity of soup donors (restaurants, churches, and more) allows patrons many delicious options; but the bowls are the star of the show,” Ike said. “People love this event – and they love looking through and choosing a ceramic bowl made by Marshall ceramic students. The bowls are gorgeous, and the work that goes into making them is tremendous.”
Ceramics professor Frederick Bartolovic noted that his students have worked diligently to create bowls for the event – and that they’ve received help from various local organizations.
“I am very excited by this year’s Empty Bowls,” Bartolovic said. “The ceramics area and students in the pottery classes have worked very hard to produce an amazing array of hand-made bowls. We also have gotten numerous donations, from people as well as institutions across the Tri-State region including The Huntington Museum of Art and Ironton Middle School. We also have had artists visiting from other regions of the country come in to the Marshall University ceramics studio to help throw bowls for our Empty Bowls event. I am proud to say we most likely are looking at a record number of nearly 1,200 bowls produced for this year’s event. The students in ceramics at Marshall University and our ceramics area technician, Jason Kiley, are responsible for most of this extraordinary production.”
For Brennan Lewis, a ceramics graduate of Marshall and an art teacher at Ironton Middle School, this was a way for her students to give back to the community and also a way for her to stay connected to her alma mater. Lewis’ students donated 50 bowls to the event.
“As an art teacher it’s not always easy to find opportunities to give back to the community, but it is a valuable lesson for the students,” Lewis said. “ I’m thankful we were given an opportunity to be part of Empty Bowls this year.”
Bartolovic said it’s important to remember that hunger is an issue more prevalent than we might realize.
“It is a great honor to organize this production effort,” he said. “The problem of hunger in our own community is at times hard to believe. Many of us may not face these problems on a day-to-day basis, but it is important that we continue to spread the word that many people in our area do not know where their next meal may be coming from. Empty Bowls is a direct opportunity in which Marshall University art students get the opportunity to help the community. Within my pottery and ceramics classes this is always a point that I highlight: art can make a difference!”
The Huntington Area Food Bank serves around 100,000 people each month in 17 counties in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. Nearly 20,000 of those are in Cabell County.
For Ike, Empty Bowls is the highlight of the spring semester. “I love everything about Empty Bowls,” she said. “I love the spirit of community, the generosity of the people who make it successful with both the donations of lunch and auction items but also of the people who come out and support the event by purchasing lunch and auction items.”
Ike explained that the work behind Empty Bowls is broken down within the planning committee. Diana Van Horn and Christian Associates manage the lunch aspect, collecting soup donations, staffing the kitchen and performing similar tasks. Sam Kincaid and the B’nai Sholom congregation organize the silent auction, including gathering the items to be bid. Skip Seibel and members of First Presbyterian Church graciously allow the event to be hosted in their space and contribute facilities support.
For more information on Empty Bowls, contact Ike by phone at 304-696-3296 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Photo: Participants in the 2012 Empty Bowls event choose their handcrafted bowls.