February 7, 2013

Pottery students fight hunger with art

Linda Beasley of Utica knows what it’s like to go hungry. “There were times in my life when I knew hunger in a real way, and that’s why it’s so…
BY: Cathy Hayden

Jason Boyd of Raymond creates a bowl in his Hinds Community College pottery class to donate to the Empty Bowls project, an international grassroots effort to end hunger.

Linda Beasley of Utica knows what it’s like to go hungry.

“There were times in my life when I knew hunger in a real way, and that’s why it’s so important to help fundraisers like Empty Bowl that serve a greater purpose,” she said.

That’s exactly what Beasley, and five other Hinds Community College students, did in Sarah Teasley’s pottery class – helping others.

Empty Bowls is an international grassroots effort to fight hunger and was created by The Imagine Render Group. The premise involves craftspeople, educators and others working with the community creating handcrafted bowls. In participating cities, guests are invited to a simple meal of soup and bread. In exchange for a cash donation, guests are asked to keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. The money raised is donated to an organization working to end hunger and food insecurity.

Teasley said she hopes the project will instill a sense of responsibility in her students and teach them about the importance of community.

“The definition of community extends beyond the mere fact that we are a group of people who live in close proximity,” she said. “Whether we realize it or not, we are interdependent. In our hectic schedules it is rather easy to become disconnected and lose sight of the fact that we are all the same and we all need assistance from time to time. I hope that this project creates a moment where students can move beyond their own circumstances and think of others.”

So far, the students have hand-crafted 93 bowls to donate to the nearest Empty Bowls project in Oxford. Together with the University of Mississippi’s contribution, there are between 500-600 bowls donated. All of the proceeds from the Oxford event, which took place in early February, go to the local food pantry.

Jason Boyd of Raymond says he enjoyed making the bowls knowing they were going to help a cause. “I’m here to develop my skills, of course,” he said. “But it’s nice seeing my hard work pay off when it’s helping someone else.”

Teasley plans on repeating this project in future pottery classes, as well as working toward creating local awareness on Empty Bowls and hunger.

“I am very interested in starting a local chapter of Empty Bowls in Hinds County,” Teasley said. “Right now, I am brainstorming ideas about where the event can take place, and thinking about the logistics. Hopefully in the next year we will be able to introduce the annual tradition of Empty Bowls locally.”

For more information on Hinds pottery classes, visit www.hindscc.edu.