Professor Suzanne Adams-Ramsey and students in her Gallery Internship class are using their artistic skills to combat hunger. They are also learning valuable tips needed to pursue a successful career as artists.
The Empty Bowl project allows artists, clay makers and potters to create bowls that are sold to benefit organizations that work to provide food to those in need. Adams-Ramsey’s students expect to create at least 30 unique bowls for their project.
“It all started in the 1990s at a high school in Michigan,” she explained. “The idea started with the push to feed the hungry. It gave artists who could not contribute financially a way to make a difference by making bowls that would be sold to benefit food banks or other organizations.”
The idea simply gives artists a way to facilitate a solution to the problem of hunger around the world. Adams-Ramsey has wanted to start the project for several years. With the support of Chancellor Donna P. Henry, Adams-Ramsey and the art majors in her class are well on their way to fulfilling their goal to have the bowls ready by mid- December.
“I think it is a beautiful thing,” she said. “We can all take a little bit of clay and sell the bowls for Smiddy’s Cupboard or the local food bank.”
The bowls are unique but all are designed to hold a serving of soup or other food. Each artist used different colors and each bowl is handcrafted in the favorite styles of the student.
As part of the Gallery Internship, the art majors learn how to set up an exhibit, market their work and even how to write a resume. The curriculum is comprehensive and is designed to teach the artists how to build a career.
Some of the art majors have not worked in clay. The project gives them the opportunity to create work in a medium that is unfamiliar. They seem to enjoy the work.
Maurice Thompson, a Coeburn resident, expects to make five bowls for the project. The art major learned about the Empty Bowl project and was ready to get to work.
Mckenzie Dykstra of Norton is a junior art major. The special touch she gives to her bowls involves incorporating some of her drawings into the piece.
“I enjoy giving back to the community,” she said. “It makes me feel good.”
Anamarie Hylton, a Coeburn resident, is also a junior art major. Her bowls are a mix of styles, but she admits she prefers sketching and drawing. She said the project is a good way for the students to support their community.
Billy Williamson of Lancaster, Virginia, had done ceramics before but never as involved as his work with clay. He is already on his third piece for the Empty Bowls project.
“I really enjoy it,” he said. “I want to try everything I can now and I want to learn as much as I can.
Devon Patrick of Floyd, Virginia is working in clay for the first time. The senior art major is primarily a painter, but he enjoys working in various mediums.
“The Empty Bowl project is a good way to bring artists together for a good cause,” he said. “It will help raise money for something that really speaks to me. I don’t want people to go hungry.”
The bowls will be offered to UVA Wise employees for purchase shortly before Christmas.