Ceramic artists contribute talents to Empty Bowl Benefit

Firing up the pottery kiln, Fernando Agreda adds another batch of bowls to be finished.

His students have molded, shaped and glazed their bowls, and now it is time to finish them.

He, and other artists and students at Green Valley High School, have been making bowls for the 14th Annual Nevada Clay Guild Empty Bowl Benefit, which raises funds for the soup line put on by Las Vegas Catholic Worker.

“We expect a couple thousand people, so we try to at least have 3,000 made,” Agreda said.

The Empty Bowl benefit is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 5 at Green Valley High School, 460 Arroyo Grande Blvd. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for children 12 or younger.

The collaborative effort draws talent from Green Valley High School, the Nevada Clay Guild, Aardvark Clay, the Fiber Guild and various artists.

Julia Occhiogrosso, founder of Las Vegas Catholic Worker, said the event allows people to purchase a hand-crafted bowl in which they can try a homemade soup.

“We make about 110 gallons of soup,” she said. “It’s all made by volunteers. We have clam chowder, broccoli cheese, vegan soup, chili, minestrone. We have a family that makes chicken noodle soup with homemade noodles.”

Each volunteer cooks about 10 gallons of the soup or chili for the event.

Las Vegas Catholic Worker has been operating for 27 years serving the homeless and poor. In 2013, it served 116,000 bowls of soup.

Empty Bowl started in 2000 to help raise money for the organization’s mission. The first year the benefit raised about $9,000. Occhiogrosso said the most it raised in recent years was $35,000.

“We average between $25,000 and $30,000 each year,” she said.

All the money raised is expected to go back to the food program, she added.

In order to pull the event off, artists from the community provide their time and skills making bowls.

Agreda, who is the ceramics teacher at Green Valley High School, has been volunteering for a few years.

“We make a lot of the bowls on our own time,” he said.

Not knowing how many to make, the rule of thumb is to make an overabundance, he said.

“There was one year we almost ran out of bowls,” he said. “We don’t want (that) to happen, so we always make a lot.”

Each design is up to the artist depending on how they want it to look.

Occhiogrosso said many of the same people come every year.

“It’s like a reunion of sorts,” she said.

Agreda said the event gets a good response from the community.

In addition to Green Valley High School, Agreda added that art students at Silverado High School plan to contribute bowls.

There is still room for volunteers to hel serve at the event, Occhiogrosso said.

For more information, visit lvcw.org/emptybowl.htm.

Contact Henderson View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 702-387-5201. Follow on Twitter @mjlyle.

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