Monday, April 30, 2012

Empty Bowls Project to fight hunger kicks off at Calumet Art Center

By Michele Bourdieu

At the Calumet Art Center, Iris Johnson, seated, Calumet Art Center Board president, gives advice to Susan Rokicki, Calumet music teacher, on painting a bowl for the Empty Bowls Project, an international effort to fight hunger. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

CALUMET -- The Calumet Art Center's Empty Bowls Project, in conjunction with BHK Great Explorations, is underway as potters, craftspeople and educators donate bowls and people of all ages come to the Center to decorate them.

The Empty Bowls Project, an international effort to fight hunger, is a community based fundraiser designed to create awareness of food insecurity and to generate income for local food pantries.

Calumet Art Center Director Ed Gray shows Susan Rokicki how to put one color over another while painting. Rokicki said this was her "first time painting."

"We're going to have 400 bowls to decorate here, and we're asking all the professional potters we can find to donate their bowls to the project," said Ed Gray, Calumet Art Center director.

Ed Gray, who is a ceramic artist, displays a bowl painted by placing one color over another. "I painted the whole thing black first, and then when that was dry I added the white -- then the red and then the yellow, using brush strokes and the tip of the brush for the dots," Gray explained.

Groups and individuals -- including children accompanied by an adult -- are invited to come to the Art Center any time it's open -- from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day except Sunday -- to decorate the bowls. Beginning in June, restaurants and cafés will be invited to serve soup to customers who donate $10 for one of the decorated bowls, which they can keep. 100 percent of the donation goes to food pantries.

Susan Rokicki proudly displays her first painted bowl. 

The lead-off restaurant donor will be the Café Rosetta on Fifth Street in Calumet. Co-owner Patrick Wright is already planning the gourmet soups he will serve on one day in June, the date to be announced.

"We probably will make two soups -- a ginger peanut stew and a lentil vegetable soup," Wright said. "Both soups will be gluten-free and vegetarian."

Customers will purchase a decorated bowl to keep, but the soup will be served in a restaurant bowl. Those who donate the $10 for a food pantry will be encouraged to keep the bowls as a reminder of those who are struggling to put food on the table for their families.

Susan Rokicki signs her painted bowl. Ed Gray encouraged her efforts, noting everyone is welcome to participate -- no special talent or experience required. 

Joanne Thomas of Allouez Township works on her bowl. After the painting, the bowl is finished with a glaze at the Art Center. Thomas, who enjoys painting, has already purchased her first bowl.

These bowls, donated to the Art Center by artists, were painted by children in the BHK Great Explorations program. Gray is anxious to have more community groups -- both adults and children -- participate in the project.

Calumet Art Center Board President and volunteer Iris Johnson, left, is pictured here with Mary Pohjola of Calumet, an Experience Works employee who works part-time at the Calumet Art Center. 

Gordon Borsvold, an experienced potter who has been doing other types of art for several years, has recently returned to pottery, working in the Art Center and donating the bowls he has made there.

"It's the first time in about 15 years," Borsvold said. "It's nice to get back in the mud."

The Empty Bowls Project has raised tens of millions of dollars for anti-hunger organizations across the nation and in 12 other countries -- one community at a time.

For more information contact the Calumet Art Center at (906) 934-2228 or email Or -- even better -- stop in at the Center at 57055 Fifth Street and paint a bowl!

1 comment:

claylady21 said...

I love your process, Ed. Should be easy to decorate even for those who think they have no talent. Wish you success.