Fine Arts

Cougars craft ceramic bowls for charity

Ceramic bowls were created and donated to the Houston Empty Bowls, which will be donated to the Houston Food Bank to help fight hunger.  | Diana Nguyen/The Daily Cougar

Free and open to all students, faculty, staff and the public, UH hosted its fifth annual Bowl-a-Thon on Friday in the Fine Arts Building.

Participants in the Bowl-a-Thon created ceramic bowls to donate to Houston Empty Bowls, a local division of an international grassroots organization dedicated to fighting hunger.

The bowls created at the Bowl-a-Thon will then be sold from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 17 at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, located on Main Street.

For $25, participants at the Houston Empty Bowls event will receive a simple lunch and their choice from a wide selection of the donated, handcrafted bowls. All of the proceeds will go to the Houston Food Bank.

Artist affiliate and former co-chair of Houston Empty Bowls Lotus Bermudez hosted the Bowl-a-Thon and had students from her Clay Processing class participate.

“Lotus announced in class that we would be doing a charity event,” said history senior Thomas Carmody. “It’s part of the participation grade — not that it’s the only reason we’re here. It’s good to feel like the art we do can give back to the community. It kind of gives it meaning.”

Bermudez said the participants of the Bowl-a-Thon included her advanced students, previous students, alumni, members of the Empty Bowls organization, the Houston Food Bank and faculty from the UH art offices.

Sculpture senior Jacob Melgren said he thought this year’s Bowl-a-Thon was a success.

“I thought it was pretty successful,” Melgren said. “A lot of people came out — more than last time, that’s for sure. It’s great to have Lotus here to help all these people and make some really great artwork.”

The event was open to participants of all skill levels, from experienced sculptors like Melgren to beginners unfamiliar with pottery crafting.

“Throwing is a skill you have to keep building up,” Melgren said. “It’s like a language. You have to keep practicing and practicing, and eventually it becomes second nature.”

Business senior and Empty Bowls volunteer Shannan Oldham, on the other hand, tried it for her first time.

“I’ve never tried it before,” Oldham said. “It was really interesting and brought me in to let me know about the organization.

“No matter what your skill level, you’re allowed to come in and just try it!”

Empty Bowls volunteer coordinator Samantha Oldham said she thinks the Bowl-a-Thon was a great opportunity to come together as a community.

“It’s really great that UH is participating,” Oldham said. “Being able to have the students come together and help the community, especially artists, is a great opportunity to show your skills and come together as a group and the community as a whole.”

Oldham said she looks forward to the Empty Bowls event in May because of its vast variety of bowls.

“When you walk in, you’ll see a sea of bowls,” Oldham said. “It’s just different types, every type of bowl you can think of. Wood bowls, metal, felt, glass; some people make really cool plastic bowls. They make them out of old records, which they melted.

“We have kids who make plaster bowls. You see all the love they put into it. It gets the school kids involved at a young age, which helps build their desire for art and their desire to help.”

To honor the Empty Bowls 10-year anniversary, Bermudez is creating a large donor bowl called a “10 bowl.”

“It has to incorporate 10 in some way,” Bermudez said. “My sons absolutely love broccoli, so I think I’m going to do 10 little broccoli heads all the way around, sort of as a tribute to Empty Bowls and a message of healthy living.”

When reflecting upon the Bowl-a-Thon’s efforts, Bermudez shared her sentiments on it.

“This event is really near and dear to my heart. I really focus on, in my own artwork, what people actually put into their bodies. It’s an awareness of what they’re eating or drinking. I think it directly relates to food and serving dishes.”

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