April 2019 Service-Learning Newsletter

Empty Bowls

Ginny Steinkamp

From February 10-16, Benedictine College held its 33rd annual Social Justice Week on campus. As in previous years, several student groups sponsored various events and speakers covering a wide range of topics from indigenous justice to the family wage.

As part of the week, Empty Bowls, an event enjoyed by students, faculty, and community members alike was held on February 12, in the Raven Roost of the Haverty Center. At this event, unique, handcrafted ceramic soup bowls made by Benedictine ceramics students and faculty, along with decadent soups and bread were available for a $10 minimum donation, with all proceeds benefitting an Atchison food pantry.

Jessica Luna, a senior Benedictine student, attended the event for the first time this year and was astonished with the quality of the food provided.  “The aroma is what initially caught my attention. The soup is so good,” Luna commented. With two artisanal soups to choose from provided by Apothic Fox Café and delicious bread from Atchison Bread Company, participants left with empty bowls but full stomachs.

Louis Reilly, an adjunct Instructor of Art at Benedictine College, and several of his students were responsible for the handcrafted soup bowls. Inspired by the Empty Bowls concept, which originated in 1990, thanks to the creativity of artists John Hartom and Lisa Blackburn (Source: AmericanProfile.com), Reilly spearheaded the event on campus. He sees Empty Bowls as an opportunity for students to give back, and a reminder of the meaningfulness behind their art. Reilly said, “I just thought it would be a good way to engage the students and give them a goal for the pots that they’re making.” Ceramics II, III, and IV all participated as a part of their courses. He continued, “It’s a cool way for art students to have their work on display and for it to be purchased. It is kind of a validator of their efforts for their work to be purchased and the money used for something productive.” With students’ ability to sell their art and a local community food pantry benefitting from the proceeds, the collaboration that resulted in the Empty Bowls event was a happy one.

Participants recognized the hard work and artistry put into each of the ceramic soup bowls. “One of the coolest things, I think, is they’re made by students here. So, it really shows their pride in their own work,” Luna observed. As found in the Benedictine College Course Catalog, students were able to “explore ceramics as a creative practice that emphasizes both aesthetics and function.” Reilly said, “They’re made in a lot of different ways and in a lot of different styles as well. It’s up to the students to create the design and aesthetic and consider the functionality.” The students’ talent and creativity as developed through this exploration were the shining stars of the Empty Bowls event.

Empty Bowls was a success and almost all of the bowls were sold, Reilly stated. With many bowls to choose from, participants truly walked away with a piece of original art. The friendly atmosphere, satisfying soups and bread, and the beauty of the handcrafted ceramic bowls all contributed to the success of this increasingly popular event on campus and allowed for greater community connection in Atchison, Kansas.