UTPB STEM students help with Empty Bowls

Sixth-graders from the University of Texas Permian Basin STEM Academy got an infusion of art into their curriculum recently when they glazed ceramic bowls that will be used in the upcoming Empty Bowls event.
Proceeds from Empty Bowls go to the West Texas Food Bank. It is a collaboration among Odessa College, Midland College, UTPB and the Boys and Girls Club, among others.
The event is 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 25 at the West Texas Food Bank, 411 S. Pagewood Ave.
The premise of Empty Bowls is having local potters, craftspeople, educators and others work with the community to create handcrafted bowls, the food bank website said.
“For a donation, guests will receive a handcrafted bowl filled with soup. Guests are invited to keep the bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world,” the site said.
UTPB Associate Professor of Art Chris Stanley said Empty Bowls tries to be as inclusive as possible and draw in as many people as possible to participate.
“So we’re going to do a thing with the Boys and Girls Club and bringing in the STEM kids to help decorate the bowls,” Stanley said.
He added that this is the first time STEM Academy students have participated.
“What’s important to sell is that while the administrations are trying to work out all these things at their level, at I think probably one of the foundational levels the artists are doing that. That’s that grassroots thing that I don’t think you can force; I don’t think you can buy. I think it just organically happens,” Stanley said.
Food bank Director of Marketing and Communications Craig Stoker said Empty Bowls costs $15.
“That gets you one of the handcrafted bowls. We have food that is sponsored by Catfish & Company and Jason’s Deli in Midland. They are bringing a bunch of different kinds of soups, some bread some desserts. But the $15 gets you in, gets you a bowl. You are absolutely welcome to purchase more,” Stoker said.
The last time Empty Bowls was in Odessa, it drew 500 people, so Stoker said he is expecting about the same number. He added that the food bank would like to raise $20,000.
“We’ve got some pick of the kiln bowls which are the special bowls that are $25 a piece. People are absolutely welcome to pick up one of those. We have sponsored tables for sale. They get you seating for eight and all eight get a pick of the kiln bowl,” Stoker added.
Between Midland College, Odessa College and UTPB, Stoker said some of the potters create is “just really special.”
“They pick it out. It gets separated out into a different pile, which is the pick of the kiln. It’s really the best of the stuff that’s been made, and for $25, you can own a handcrafted piece of art that these potters have done. So it’s a neat opportunity and kind of a special deal,” Stoker said.
Mike McMillan, engineering teacher at the STEM Academy, said he was involved with Empty Bowls as a student. He had Stanley has a teacher and threw a few bowls for it.
“I love it,” McMillan said of the event. “Our school, one of the main things we do is we try to connect with the community and show the kids how important it is to take part in making their community better in any way they can. Our sixth-graders here have several different endeavors into that, but this is one of the biggest ones, as far as the number of people it affects.
All together, McMillan said, 66 sixth-graders will have had a hand in Empty Bowls.
Salome Anaya, 12, and Porter Goodwin, 11, are two of them.
“It feels great being able to participate and help the community by painting …,” Anaya said.
Goodwin said this was the first time he had glazed pottery, but he has made ceramics before.
“I think it’s fun because I like art,” he said.
Anaya said glazing bowls is “super fun.”
“It’s like a first-time experience that you never get to do. It’s like a once-in-a-lifetime thing unless you’re one of the lucky people. When you’re doing glazing, it takes precision and carefulness but (you don’t) always have to make it perfect. You can make it however you want,” he said.