‘Empty Bowls’ leads to full stomachs


Rebecca Turnbull

Marshall University ceramics and clay club students made over 1,000 bowls for Empty Bowls in 2016.

Empty Bowls leads to full stomachs in the tri-state area, and for the Marshall University ceramics department, that means it’s time to start working.

Empty Bowls is an international initiative to raise money and awareness in the fight to end hunger, and it is coming to Huntington for the 14th year. The event, to be held April 28, sells hand-crafted bowls, with proceeds going to Huntington’s Facing Hunger Foodbank, a non-profit that serves 113,500 food insecure individuals in 17 counties across West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. Along with each bowl purchased, there comes a ticket to a soup-kitchen style meal of soup, bread and drink.

Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Marshall Keramos Clay Club will be sponsoring an open studio event in its art warehouse, offering a chance for community members and students to test their pottery skills and contribute to the cause.

Frederick Bartolovic, associate professor of art and ceramics area coordinator, said the majority of bowls contributed to the event each year come out of Marshall.

“The backbone of this event comes out of this studio right here and the students who are working here in the ceramics program,” Bartolovic said. “In this studio we typically generate probably anywhere from 700 to 800 of the bowls that get produced and every year, with donations from places like the Huntington Museum of Art and other local potters, we end up at the event with anywhere from 1,000 to 1,200 bowls.”

Bartolovic said last year the event generated around $17,000 for the foodbank. His own ceramics class, which focuses on service learning, not only makes a large portion of the bowls, but also volunteers their time at the Facing Hunger Foodbank.

Every spring, and sometimes in the fall as well, the art warehouse opens its doors to the public to join in the ceramics department’s efforts to produce bowls. Bartolovic said more bowls created equates to potentially more money for the foodbank.

“Each bowl at the event sells for $15 and all the proceeds from the Empty Bowls event go to the Facing Hunger Foodbank,” Bartolovic said. “The Facing Hunger Foodbank can provide seven meals for each dollar they get. They service 16 counties in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. Every bowl that is made and contributed to the Empty Bowls event actually provides 105 meals.”

Kelsie Tyson, president of the Keramos Clay Club, said Clay Club always aims to raise more money for the foodbank.

“We try to beat our goal,” Tyson said. “Every year we try to raise more and more and more.”

The Keramos Clay Club will be volunteering their time Saturday to help teach people who are not familiar with ceramics. The open studio event is open to the public and there is no cost to participate.

Franklin Norton can be contacted at [email protected].