Springfield student art to benefit local food bank

Matthew Johnson’s Art II class is learning to make bowls on a pottery wheel. They each get to keep at least one bowl that they make, but they are creating hundreds more to be given away during “Empty Bowls” fundraiser dinners in Urbana and Bellefontaine.

The Empty Bowls project began in 1990 with a high school art teacher in Michigan and has since spread around the world.

The bowls made at Springfield will be given to diners at two upcoming events benefiting the Second Harvest Food Bank of Clark, Champaign and Logan Counties.

Attendees pay $15 for a simple meal of soup and bread, and they then get to keep their hand-crafted bowl. The money helps the food bank collect, store and distribute more than 526,000 pounds of food per year to partner agencies in the area.

“They’re getting a kick out of it,” Johnson said of the students’ experiences using the pottery wheel, most of them for the first time. Many are initially frustrated, as it takes a lot of technique, but they’re getting the hang of it, he said.

Last year, his students made 435 bowls for local “Empty Bowls” events. This year, they’ve already finished 85 and had another 100 in the works.

“It’s a lot of trial and error. You just have to be patient,” said senior Isaiah Everhart. He’s made three bowls so far.

Everhart said he’s volunteered with his family at soup kitchens and food banks in the past, but likes that this is something he’s using his skills to do independently.

“It’s a lot of fun to give back to the community,” he said.

Johnson has been part of Empty Bowls events since he was a student at Wittenberg University.

The Springfield university will also host a dinner to benefit Second Harvest on March 31 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the Student Union Center. Wittenberg art students make the bowls for that event.

The Champaign County event that will feature Springfield High School student bowls is Feb. 25 at Urbana University from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Student Union Center.

Their bowls will also be used at Logan County’s event on April 28. It is from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Ohio Hi-Point Career Center.

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