Addressing hunger one bowl at a time

by Briana Sutherland
Contributing writer

Freshmen through senior students at Spectrum High School got their hands dirty for a purpose, to help feed those less fortunate in the Elk River community by handcrafting ceramic bowls to be given away later this spring in Elk River.

Melissa Gohman, visual director from the Paramount in St. Cloud, visited Spectrum for their Full Bowls Service Learning Project to teach students about pottery techniques and history.

“We were influenced by empty bowls for this project,” said Erin Rolf, art teacher at Spectrum. “Our plan is to give the bowls away with soup inside. This is the first time for this project.”

Gohman began by educating students about the ancient techniques and styles used to what is being used today.

“Clay is found almost everywhere in the world.  It’s used mainly for religious purposes or food.  Can you imagine how hard it was to eat before pottery?” Gohman asked the class while explaining how we currently use lots more glass, plastic and metal products that could be potentially harmful to our health.

Gohman explained the techniques of coil and pinch pots to the class in the first of four visits the class will have with her for this project.  She also explained the qualities of a successful bowl, such as it needs to contain something, hold its own shape and stand alone as well as be smooth and the same uniform thickness.

Students began creating pinch pots and some found the task slightly more difficult than they thought it would be.  After they mastered their first bowl, the project became easier and the class was able to produce between 60–80 bowls in their first of four sessions.

Plans to repeat this project are unsure since it is being funded, in part, by a grant from the Central Minnesota Arts Board, through appropriations from the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the state’s general fund and its arts and cultural heritage fund.

The project is expected to be completed later this spring.