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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Carleton hosts Empty Bowls, raises money for Northfield Food Shelf

<st Friday, the Empty Bowls fundraiser sold soup and ceramics to the Carleton community on the Bald Spot. Empty Bowls is an international nonprofit project that hosts events at which bowls donated by local artists or students are filled with food and sold to benefit the hungry.

“Anyone can use the name Empty Bowls as long as it goes to fight hunger somewhere,” said art professor Kelly Connole, the organizer of Carleton’s Empty Bowls Event.

In total, the Empty Bowls event raised over $6,700 for the Northfield Community Action Food Shelf, with an average donation of $11.50 per bowl. Although there were no fixed prices, organizers recommended a donation of $10 to $15.

This was Carleton’s sixth year participating in Empty Bowls, with the help of Connole and her Advanced Ceramics class. Connole became involved with Empty Bowls before her arrival at Carleton, when she met the project’s originator, John Hartom.

“His idea is so simple and pure, it just caught on,” said Connole. All she had to do was tailor the Empty Bowls concept to Carleton.

Empty Bowls’ success at Carleton relies on student effort. Connole’s ceramics class created a variety of bowls for the fundraiser, treating it as a civic engagement project. Connole described the students’ collaborative process, explaining, “They’re all made by all of us.”

In fact, said Jhanna Kosicki ’10, “At least three pairs of hands touched each bowl.” One student threw the basic bowl on the pottery wheel, another added its base, or “foot,” while yet another carved out patterns on the sides, made marks with wax resist, or glazed the bowl.

The students were enthusiastic about this work. 

“It builds community within the class, and it’s a great way to learn about your peers and making things together,” Kosicki said. In addition, the project taught the students new skills as part of the Advanced Ceramics curriculum.

Meanwhile, other Carleton students cooked the soup that filled the ceramics. Interest houses such as Fish, Farm, CANOE and Women’s Awareness, as well as off-campus houses, townhouses, faculty spouses and even dorm floors contributed mostly vegetarian soups, although chicken noodle and turkey chili also made appearances.

This year, for the first time, the class sold unclaimed pottery at a separate table during the event, raising almost $670 for Potters for Peace. Potters for Peace is a nonprofit organization unaffiliated with Empty Bowls which makes ceramic water purifiers for impoverished areas, most recently increasing their efforts in Haiti. These filters are crafted from local clay on location, making them very sustainable.

While the money from Empty Bowls stays in the community, Potters for Peace adds an international perspective to the fundraising. The link between these two organizations is their crafting of clay to help the needy.

“There’s something really humbling about using earth to make something,” Connole said.

Not only was the introduction of Potters for Peace a triumph, but Empty Bowls’ profit this year was also nine times as much as it earned its first year on campus. Ceramics student Julia Walther ’10 thought this success was due to the event’s innate appeal.

“I think people are really excited when they can contribute to something and bring something home with them,” she said.

Connole, in turn, attributes some of this success to the generosity of Carls, some to an increased campus awareness of Empty Bowls’ mission, and some to her Advanced Ceramics class.

“We have a really, really strong group of advanced students this year, so the quality of the bowls was really high.”

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