Creating a change: University art students create ‘Empty Bowls’

Published 4:00 am Thursday, April 2, 2015

Heather Sessions creates her bowl with flower embellishments with the coil method.

Heather Sessions creates her bowl with flower embellishments with the coil method.

The closest association that most students in Larry Percy’s ceramics class could make to Empty Bowls was a bowl of Ramen Noodles.

That was then.

Today, the students in Percy’s “Time and Space” class at Troy University fully understand the meaning of Empty Bowls and are committed to doing their part to fill those empty bowls and feed the hungry in Pike County.

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Empty Bowls is grassroots movement to end hunger and Percy, an associate professor in the Department of Art and Design at Troy University, has been involved in the movement in Pike County since it began seven years ago.

The Empty Bowls movement in Pike County is a fundraiser for the local Salvation Army Service Center.

Kim May, center director, said the annual Empty Bowls Luncheon is the Salvation Army’s second largest fundraiser and supports the Salvation Army’s food pantry.

“We depend on students, civic groups and individuals to make bowls for our luncheon,” May said. “Each person who purchases a ticket to the Empty Bowls Luncheon chooses a handmade bowl to take home, so the bowls are central to our fundraiser. We appreciate the support of Larry’s students. They are very creative and their bowls are works of art.”

Many of the university students become supporters of Empty Bowls and continue to work with and support Empty Bowls after they graduate.

Heather Sessions of Dothan designed a bowl for the luncheon that is embellished with tangled flowers.

“From the Disney movie, ‘Tangled,’” Sessions said with a smile. “Empty Bowls is a good thing because it’s a way to help feed the hungry. I enjoy helping others. I work with the Food Bank in Dothan and help with Habitat for Humanity. I’m surprised that there aren’t more opportunities for things like Empty Bowls here in Pike County. I know I would like to be more involved and I’m sure others would, too.”

Stephen Lewis, who is originally from Dayton, Ohio, agreed that many university students like to be involved in the Pike County community when given the opportunity.

“I didn’t know that Empty Bowls existed until I got in this class,” he said. “I’m glad that Mr. Percy involved us in this project. I believe that we all appreciate the opportunity to do something for others.”

Lewis said his Eagle Scout project was to make a food pantry in Birmingham.

People in need had to go a long distance to a food pantry. Lewis saw a need for a nearby food pantry and he responded.

“The United Community Center Pantry is meeting the needs of a lot of people there,” he said. “I appreciate the opportunity to be a part feeding the hungry here through this class.”

Sessions and Lewis probably aren’t the only two Time and Space students who will be more actively involved in community service projects because they were involved in the Empty Bowls Luncheon in Pike County.

The Empty Bowls Luncheon will be from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. April 17 at the Bush Memorial Baptist Church Fellowship Hall. Bush Memorial is located on George Wallace Drive in Troy. Tickets are $20 and include a soup and stew luncheon with beverage and dessert, a handmade bowl to take home and the fellowship of friends and neighbors.