UA Assistant Professor Wade MacDonald and his ceramics students again contributed 200 handmade ceramic bowls to the 14th Annual Empty Bowls, a national fundraiser that raises hunger awareness in local communities. Tuscaloosa’s event took place March 25, 2022, at Grace Presbyterian Church and benefited the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry of the church. For a suggested donation of $15, attendees could select a hand-crafted bowl created by local artists, and a meal of soup, bread, and water. A selection of soups were donated by area restaurants.
MacDonald, who heads the ceramics area in the UA Department of Art and Art History, said that almost all of his students were involved in making bowls for the spring event, beginning in the fall semester.
UA graduate students and ceramics instructor (and alumna) Meg Howton, with the advanced undergrad students worked together to create the large number of bowls. “Meg and grad students Parker Hunt and Dillan Ladner scheduled times to throw the bowls as a team,” explained MacDonald. “It usually takes several sessions to produce the bowls. The bowls are thrown on the wheel or hand-built, then they must dry and are trimmed or finished. The bowls are then bisque fired, glazed and then glaze fired. In all, it takes about a week for a bowl to be produced.”
According to the event organizers, “the ‘meager meal’ is intended to remind participants that food security eludes many of our West Alabama neighbors; the empty bowl shows that many go to bed hungry.
Added MacDonald, “The last time we participated in Empty Bowls was before the pandemic. It was especially gratifying to engage with members of the community and to try some of the many delicious soups and chilis. I find these types of events very worthwhile. Empty Bowls allows our students to witness the direct and meaningful impact their artwork has on the community.”