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  • Writer's picture CAROLINE LEYES '18

Empty Bowls Project

On Sunday, March 12, the Saint Ursula Academy ceramics students hosted an Empty Bowls fundraiser to support St. George Food Pantry. Empty Bowls is a national effort to raise awareness for and fight hunger. Each member of Mr. Nicaise’s two ceramics classes contributed 5 bowls she made throughout the third quarter.

The Empty Bowls Project is currently celebrating 25 years of raising awareness for hunger. Its mission statement is “to create positive and lasting change through the arts, education, and projects that build community.” The project is described as a grassroots movement that finds creative ways to raise money for work in social justice.

For a donation of fifteen dollars, each attendee received a bowl of their choice, a placemat, and a warm meal that represented what someone might receive at a soup kitchen. The lunch included different soups also made by the students, crackers, rolls, and desserts. The placemats were made as a part of Mr. Nicaise’s beginning and honors ceramics class to illustrate the issue of hunger and the effort of Empty Bowls. Hannah Sloan ‘18 said, “One of the most eye opening aspects of the project was learning about food insecurity, and how it affects our community at home and worldwide. It was super surprising to learn what an effect it has just down the street from my school.”

The effort is sponsored by the Cincinnati Clay Alliance, which is how the ceramic students contributed. Four of the five bowls were made out of stoneware clay, a high-fire, classroom clay.

The other bowl the students created was made out of raku clay, a Japanese pottery. The project allowed the students to be expressive and helped them focus on using the wabi-sabi technique; this style of pottery is a Japanese method that embraces errors and asymmetrical pieces. All the clay was purchased from Queen City Clay, who also provided the raku glazing and firing equipment. After forming and drying their clay, the students spent one class day using a special process to dip their pots into glaze.

The next day, Queen City Clay set up the firing process at Saint Ursula and the class was able to witness the one hour firing process on site. First, the pots were fired, then placed into trashcans filled with newspaper to cool, and finally dipped in water. After, the glazes were revealed and the students embraced chance through the wabi sabi technique and unexpected results of the metallic colors. Hannah mentioned how the “hands on” project had been humbling and rewarding. “Like the rest of my classmates, I have thoroughly enjoyed this project, and the opportunity I have been given to fight against food insecurity.”

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