Ms. Amie Larson has been a ceramics teacher for eighteen years, all of which she has spent in Wellesley. Five years ago, she decided to shake things up, starting an annual fundraiser hosted by ceramics intensive students. Every year, Larson’s Empty Bowls event raises money for the fight against hunger. Along with Larson, the students decided to donate this year’s proceeds to the Boston Food Pantry.
Empty Bowls is an international organization of potters looking to end hunger “one bowl at a time,” as Larson puts it. The premise of this group is to host local events where community members are invited to a potluck-style night of eating, ending the night with an auction of handmade ceramic bowls. For the high school, the event always takes place in the cafeteria around the time of Thanksgiving to celebrate the season by helping those in need.
“[My favorite part] is knowing what my students are doing in my class can bring a community together in a way that is fun, gives back, and makes everybody happy. I always have done it right before Thanksgiving because I think it’s the right time to be thankful,” said Larson.
This year, as a change to the usual tradition, the students decided they would like to go and volunteer at the food pantry in addition to the donation of their proceeds. In January, the group plans to take a field trip to The Boston Food Pantry for a day of service. Raising over $2,200 at the Empty Bowls night, the Art department set a small portion of the proceeds towards the Emerging Artist Award. This honor is awarded to a rising artist in the department.
As Larson puts it, the event is not only, “feeding the soul of the ceramic artists, but it’s also giving back to the art community of the high school,” said Larson.
Izzy Perozek joined the ceramics intensive class as a junior. This was her second year participating in the event.
“This year, it was a lot of fun. We set up during the school day for the event, and then we got there at 4:30 PM to set up, and then it started at 5:00 PM, so it was cool to see all that setup. We have been working on this since basically the beginning of the school year, so it was cool to see that come together… I would say that definitely builds community hanging out outside of just an hour a day,” said Perozek.
First year intensive student, Sierra Marasco ’21 also recognizes the struggles of making work for this event.
“It was difficult because we were trying to make five bowls that were all relatively the same, so you had to really pay attention to your technique and do everything the same for all of the bowls, but it was also cool at the end to see them all be similar,” said Marasco.
As for her enjoyment of being in the class in general, Perozek emphasizes a message of the classroom community.
“I would say the best part [of the class] is definitely the community. It’s really fun. Not only that it’s sort of a break from school, but it’s also a really positive community. When people are stressed out about whatever else, it’s very supportive, and everyone is always excited to help each other. My favorite part, I would say is being able to use each other to get new inspiration. Everyone has such different styles or things that they’re comfortable with, but by seeing each other do whatever they’re doing, you want to try new things,” said Perozek.
The underlying goal of the Empty Bowls event is for the students to reach out to the community and help those in need. By having a strong community in the classroom foremost, the potters are able to express their creative ideas and make a more impactful contribution to the Greater Boston community.
“I think it’s a great way for students to see that their work is bigger than themselves, and It’s not just me telling them that they do a nice job, It’s appreciated in the whole community,” said Larson.