Church, UA Art Department Team to Host “Empty Bowls”

Church, UA Art Department Team to Host “Empty Bowls”

Bowls created by ceramics students in The University of Alabama's art and art history department for "Empty Bowls" 2015.
Bowls created by ceramics students in The University of Alabama’s art and art history department for “Empty Bowls” 2015.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Kathryn Bornhoft filtered her fingers through a wet brick of clay, her fingertips seeking out its heart.

Wrapping her hand around her chosen fistful, she cast aside the excess and began tossing, beating and shaping her lump into what would become a ceramic bowl – a likely misshapen one, by her own admittance, but one crafted with tender care.

It would be in good company. Her other two bowls, which sat atop a wooden board drying, had lopsided rims. There’s a beauty in imperfection, she said.

“It’s lovely, as you can tell,” said Bornhoft, a 29-year-old senior from Los Angeles majoring in sculpture and ceramics.

More than 100 ceramic bowls will come out of the firing kilns of University of Alabama ceramics instructor Wade MacDonald’s class in the coming week. Colored and glazed, the bowls will be donated to University Presbyterian Church’s “Empty Bowls 2016” fundraiser for the hungry Feb. 26.

The event, held at the church from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., will serve bowls of soup donated from area restaurants such as Chuck’s Fish, Surin of Thailand, Jason’s Deli and Manna Grocery.

For a suggested donation of $10, attendees may select a hand-crafted ceramic bowl and will receive a meal of soup, bread and water. They will also hear live Celtic music provided by UA math teacher, Jil Chambless, and her husband, Dan Vogt.

All proceeds from the fundraiser will be donated to the UPC Food Pantry, which distributes food purchased from the West Alabama Food Bank to families in need. The outreach program provides food for an average of 650 people every month.

“This event is a wonderful way for the community to come together to support feeding our hungry neighbors right here in Tuscaloosa,” said the Rev. Cathy Hoop, pastor of University Presbyterian. “There are people all around us who are in need, and it’s our responsibility to take care of our brothers and sisters in our community.

“We’re really grateful for The University of Alabama’s ceramic students for creating all these bowls for us. Recently, UA athletes have been helping us, too, with carrying bags of food from the Food Pantry to the clients’ vehicles.”

Empty Bowls is a national organization that encourages groups around the country to raise money for food pantries.

MacDonald said he’s participated in an Empty Bowls charity event before for children orphaned from the AIDS epidemic in Africa. He called it a worthy cause.

“It’s always nice when you can encourage others, especially with students,” he said. “They’re enthusiastic about doing this.”

Bornhoft said creating the bowls for the event is a labor of love. Though she said she’s not the best at creating bowls, she’s glad she’s able to help those in need.

“If you see a little malformed, not-so-great bowl, give it love because those bowls need love, too,” she said. “And the soup tastes just as good.”

Tickets to the event are available in advance from UPC members and from the church, located two blocks south of The Strip at 1127 Eighth St. Tickets will also be available at the door starting at 10 a.m. Friday.

For more information about the national Empty Bowls project, visit or write to Empty Bowls at P.O. Box 1689, Burnsville, N.C., 28714.

UA’s art and art history department is part of the College of Arts and Sciences, the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state. Students from the College have won numerous national awards including Rhodes and Goldwater scholarships.


Jamon Smith, UA media relations,, 205/348-4956


The Rev. Cathy Hoop, 205/758-5422,