Empty Bowls allows participating artists and groups to create and donate bowls, then serve a simple meal. In some communities, ceramic artists are joined by wood turners, glassblowers, fibre artists, metal smiths, painters, sculptors, and other artists and craftspeople. In most cases guests choose a bowl to use that day and to keep as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. The artists often work in conjunction with local restaurants, groceries, and kitchens to provide a variety of foods for the attendees to sample.
Empty Bowls is a grassroots effort by artists and crafts people in cities and towns across the country and around the world to feed the hungry in their communities. It supports food-related charitable organizations around the world, and has raised millions of dollars to help end hunger.
“It’s not a lack of food; the problem is food distribution.” – John Hartom
This project was founded by Lisa Blackburn and art teacher John Hartom in 1990-91 when they joined a drive to raise charitable funds in Hatrom’s Michigan community. His idea was to organize a charitable event to give artists and art students a way to make a personal difference. Hartom’s students made ceramic bowls in their high school art classes. The finished products were then used as serving pieces for a fund-raising meal of soup and bread. Contributing guests kept the empty bowl.