Empty Bowls Project Benefits People at Home and Abroad
About 40 Colby-Sawyer student artists contributed to this fall's Empty Bowls Project, raising close to $1,500 to feed the hungry in New Hampshire and to help Haitian people who need medical treatment. The project, coordinated by Professor of Art Jon Keenan, is based on an international initiative begun by potter John Hartom, which has raised millions of dollars for hungry and impoverished people around the world.
This semester's Empty Bowl Project was held at an arts and crafts fair on campus during Family Weekend in October. The students created a great variety of colorful and creative ceramic bowls, which were filled with soup and sold, along with bread, to visiting families and community members. The funds will be donated to the New Hampshire Food Bank and to the Student-to-Student project led by Kearsarge Regional High School, which this year will benefit Haitians who need eye surgery. (Mike Heffernan and Sodexho donated the soup and bread.)
This fall's event was the fourth time Colby-Sawyer has hosted the project in support of worthy causes. The empty bowls serve as a metaphor for people who go hungry, according to Professor Keenan. In the first year of hosting, founder John Hartom came to campus to help launch the project. It's win-win; the visitors contribute to a great project and have something tangible to take home with them, Keenan says. It's a great opportunity for our students to become involved and affect positive social change.
Graphic Design major John DeGray '09 made about ten bowls for the event, as well as helped set up for the event and serve soup. I think the most impressive part of the event is how successful it is. This is the second year I have participated and almost every bowl the students made was sold, he says. The community, faculty and parents really seem to like the project, and the amount of money we make for the food bank is extremely impressive. I like knowing that the art we are creating is doing something more than sitting on the shelf or in the cabinet.
Harinder Singh, a first-year international student from India, says his ceramics class with Professor Keenan is his favorite; he has worked hard and learned the real art. Participation in the Empty Bowls Project has been particularly meaningful for him. It was very important to me because it was the right opportunity for me to show my pieces, he says. I think the college should encourage these types of events, where students can present their talent and.. get encouragement from these activities.
Chloe Sempere '11 and her family contributed to the project by buying several bowls of soup. I think this was a wonderful event; the idea is creative and has a really great cause, she says. Maybe we should do it more than just once a year, maybe once every semester, although having it on family weekend was a great opportunity to get so many buyers. Maybe we could have it involving more people from the town, perhaps in the spring.
The students made the bowls in various ceramics classes and in Professor Keenan's Pathway Seminar, Intercultural Ceramics: The History, Aesthetics and Production of Ceramics.
The project builds on community capacity, and that's what I'm really interested in, Keenan concludes. We're in a position to help others.
-Kimberly Swick Slover