Arts / Galleries

Empty Bowls Brings Houston Artists and the Community Together to Create and Fight Hunger — This Is No Ordinary Fundraiser

A Tradition Entering Its 18th Year Helps Feed Houston

BY // 04.30.24

For Houston artist Michelle Heinesen, participating in the Empty Bowls Houston fundraiser is a profoundly meaningful experience, rooted in a heartfelt commitment to help those who need it most.

“Growing up as a latchkey kid with a single parent, food scarcity is an issue that hits close to home,” Heinesen says. “The Empty Bowls Houston event allows me the opportunity to give back to the community in a collective manner that is much more amplified than my efforts alone.”

Hosted in Houston to benefit the Houston Food Bank, Empty Bowls brings together like-minded artists, volunteers and sponsors in an international effort to help fight hunger. Since its inception, Empty Bowls Houston has raised $1,054,599 for the Houston Food Bank, equating to more than 3.16 million meals for Houstonians who experience dire food insecurity.

Houstonians with an eye for intricately handcrafted bowls and a heart for helping others will want to check out the 18th annual Empty Bowls Houston on Saturday, May 11 at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.

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People peruse bowls at Empty Bowls Houston 2023. (Courtesy Empty Bowls Houston)

Empty Bowls Houston chair Samantha Oldham shares a unique perspective about how crucial the event is for Houstonians in need of a fresh, hot meal.

“Growing up, my mother made sure to help us understand the different experiences people have by getting us involved in community projects such as Meals on Wheels or volunteering with different organizations,” Oldham tells PaperCity. “I enjoy working with the Houston Food Bank because I know the outreach and impact this organization has on the community.”

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Empty Bowls Houston chair Samantha Oldham at Empty Bowls Houston 2022 (Courtesy Empty Bowls Houston)

During the event, people can grab a hot bowl of soup and view the 1,500 distinctive, hand-crafted bowls created by Houston-area ceramists and craft artists. The bowls can be purchased for a simple donation of $25 per bowl, with larger bowls available at a higher price. All the proceeds go to Houston Food Bank.

Described as a valentine to Houston artists, Empty Bowls Houston is an event that brings together all the creative minds and generous hearts of the Bayou City.

“Empty Bowls Houston is such a love fest to Houston, to local artisans and to the Houston Food Bank,” Foelber Pottery Gallery co-owner Judy Adams says. “The energy leading up to and during the event is electric. We love doing pottery demos for the public, seeing childrens’ eyes light up as they create with their own hands.

“Our pottery students get a thrill out of donating their handcrafted bowls, seeing them go to good homes, and knowing all the money goes to help the Houston Food Bank’s mission to provide food for those in need.”

Foelber Pottery Gallery holds a pottery demo at Empty Bowls Houston. (Courtesy Empty Bowls Houston)
Foelber Pottery Gallery holds a pottery demo at Empty Bowls Houston. (Courtesy Empty Bowls Houston)

To raise funds for Empty Bowls Houston, Archway Gallery hosted an invitational exhibition and sale of exquisitely crafted unique bowls. Artists, including Heinesen and Lotus Bermudez of Third Coast Clay, raised the stakes and took the 100 bowl challenge, creating more than 100 bowls for the event.

For Houston artist and Empty Bowls Houston committee member Virginia Bally, this event is a true investment of the heart. She and her husband Andre were invited by Thomas Perry, a good friend and one of the founders of Empty Bowls Houston, to contribute bowls almost two decades ago. Since then, they have participated as committee members and witnessed Empty Bowls’ true impact.

“It is wonderful to see the arts and craft guilds pull together to help our community,” Bally says.

The 18th Annual Empty Bowls Houston is set for Saturday, May 11, from 10 am to 3 pm at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, 4848 Main Street. For more information about Empty Bowls Houston, go here.

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