Call them messages in a soup bowl.
Students have been creating unique ceramic bowls by the dozens in the studio at Indiana University East.
Hour by hour, over 200 pottery pieces have been thrown on the pottery wheel, fired, glazed and fired again.The last kiln was unloaded today (November 12) and now, the colorful finished products sit on shelves, awaiting a special IU East-sponsored luncheon event that will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 15. The luncheon will be held at First Friends Meeting in Boruk Hall, located at 2010 Chester Blvd. in Richmond.
“I threw 30 bowls,” says Arianna Cook, a senior fine arts major from Cambridge City. “A lot of work goes into it.”
A lot of caring is going into them, too. That’s because the handmade works will serve as the dinnerware for the Empty Bowls Luncheon that is designed to bring attention to world and local hunger. “It’s nice to use art to give back, to help others,” Cook says. “I’ll be there.”
So will Piedad Llerena. In fact, the native of Ecuador wouldn’t miss it for the world.
The message isn’t the meal, she said. “The bowl will go into homes and be a reminder that many people have nothing to eat.”
Llerena has produced 43 reminders in a variety of colors and stripes.
“It’s something I can build with my hands to help others,” Llerena said, a real-estate agent and soon-to-be graduate in business from IU East.
For a $10 donation, luncheon guests can choose their bowl and have it filled with soup. The meal also includes bread, a drink and a dessert. When guests are finished eating, their bowls are washed and returned to them to take home as a reminder that someone’s bowl is always empty.
“At the entrance to the event, tables will be filled with a beautiful display of handmade bowls. It’s fun to watch guests select a bowl that best suits their tastes,” Assistant Professor of Fine Arts Carrie Longley said. Longley has dreamed of putting on the event here for several years. “They make a personal connection.”
That’s the point. Empty Bowls is an international effort.
She became familiar with the program effort through ceramics professor Scott Dooley at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. “It was such a meaningful event at Wittenberg,” Longley said. “This definitely will be the first of an annual event.”
She believes there will be about 250 bowls available this year. Most have been produced by students, but some have been donated by local potters, including Brian Haviland, Ann Tobin, and Elisha Frazier of Elm Tree Pottery.
Event proceeds will go to Open Arms Ministries, a coalition of 14 churches and social ministries that serves as a clearinghouse of services for low-income families in Richmond and the immediate area. “We take care of needs of people on the edge,” said Lincoln Blake, vice president of Open Arms.
The coalition had been seeking a major fund-raiser. “Nothing seemed to fit,” Blake said. “But, this is the right connect. We’re delighted.”
He and Longley hope the program continues. Early indications are that it will.
Members from the 14 congregations are making the soups, breads, pies and cakes. Three restaurants – Arby’s, Chipotle and Taco Bell – have provided cups, plates and plastic ware, Blake said.
The effort has drawn attention from social media. That resulted Friday in the delivery of four boxes of Square Donuts as students gathered along with Longley to finish up some of their works during the Glaze-A-Thon, which also brought faculty, staff and students to the art studio to help glaze the ceramic bowls.
“We have had an amazing response from campus,” said Ann Tobin, community liaison for the IU East Service-Learning Campus. “We are so thankful.”
Student Government Association members and 21st-Century Scholars have offered help, along with the service-learning club. All of the student artists are donating their time.
“It’s been a lot of fun, but there’s also been a lot of hard work by those making the bowls and those making all the food,” says Tobin, who was familiar with an Empty Bowls program that’s run at Miami University (Ohio), where her husband is a ceramics professor. “It’s a grassroots movement that’s exploded all over.”
Tobin and Longley echo that belief the event has taken wings because it’s such a good cause and the bowls offer a message that can live on.
Hopefully, the bowls will outlive world hunger, too.
For more information about the Empty Bowls Luncheon, contact IU East Assistant Professor of Fine Arts Carrie Longley, at (765) 973-8296 or firstname.lastname@example.org.