Clay soup bowls carry message on helping poor

Hunger: A scant meal at South Carroll High's community supper will raise money for many who have little to eat every day.

March 26, 2000|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Diners should expect to come away from South Carroll High's community supper with empty bowls and unsatisfied appetites.

Students, faculty and a few celebrities are creating ceramic serving bowls in the school's art studio.

On April 19, the school will offer a truly lean cuisine for $5: bread, water and thin broth, ladled into about 350 newly made bowls.

"People will be surprised when they find out what kind of dinner this is, but I believe it will make a point," said Principal David Booz. "This activity can help folks understand that we all have to help each other."

The school is the first in Carroll County to participate in Empty Bowls, an international project to fight hunger. A lump of clay fashioned into a serving dish has become the symbol of the movement.

"People will take home an empty bowl as a lasting reminder, a physical reminder of hunger in the world," said Cara Ober, art teacher.

For several weeks, budding artists have been up to their wrists in modeling clay at the school's art studio. Designs range from the primitive and slightly lopsided to the intricately etched. On a table waiting to be kiln-fired were a soft green cabbage, a delicate flower opened to full bloom and, after last week's session, several footballs.

Seven Ravens football players joined the effort. Many used sports themes and autographed their designs, hoping their clay works will attract high bids. Tight end Ryan Collins' bowl, though one of the largest, could not accommodate his massive handprint. Instead, he etched a bull's eye and added his signature and number 49.

Safety Anthony Poindexter said the project would show the students "we are people just like them who want to help out."

Senior Missi Koch made a small hand of clay and placed it in the bottom of her bowl to symbolize "the helping hand aspect of the project," she said. "This is my third or fourth attempt, but this one is a go."

Pleased with her first attempt at ceramics, she planned to come to the dinner and buy her bowl. Dinner bowls will cost $5, with the light repast included. A few of the more spectacular or famous artist efforts will be auctioned. Teachers' bowls are also expected to raise the bidding.

Gary Foote, physics teacher, used alphabet pasta to imprint complex equations into his bowl. In the kiln, the pasta will burn off, but the lettering will remain.

Jim Horn, social studies teacher and soccer coach, chose a theme that indicated his other passion. "Golf is Life" and a clay flag, ball, tee and iron in appropriate colors decorated his bowl. Soup may never touch it, he said.

For Margi Petrella, smashing clay was relaxation therapy after a day teaching history. She was painting her two bowls green, although they appeared milky white.

"I am operating on faith," she said.

Penny Post, a human resources specialist with the county school system, made a small figure to hold up her bowl.

"I look at the camaraderie and community involvement here," she said. "We have students, athletes and teachers. This is a great character activity."

Debbie Rivera and her 12-year-old daughter, Desiree, had clay over and under their fingernails. They were molding a skateboard and etching T.J. Rivera into the clay in memory of their son and brother, who was a freshman at the school three years ago, when he died of an asthma attack.

"The Class of 2001, his class, asked us to participate," said Debbie Rivera. "This is a fantastic project with a lot of talented people. My son was an artist, too."

For senior Matt Lee, the project was a way out of detention.

"This is a lot better than hours of detention," he said. "It is worthwhile and getting everybody involved."

At 10, Westin Graham grasped the meaning of the bowl making.

"They are making this stuff for people who don't have food," he said. "We are helping poor people so maybe they can have something to eat and something to eat out of."

At first, Duncan Robertson, 12, thought of the artwork as a way to add to his community service hours. But, before he finished his bowl, he was planning to bring his parents to the dinner.

"It is just soup and they might leave a little hungry, but they will be helping other people to eat," he said.

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