Bay Ridge

‘Empty Bowls Project’ raises awareness of hunger

Artists organizing May 2 fundraiser in Bay Ridge

April 22, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A sampling of the hand-crafted, decorated bowls that will be sold at the May 2 fundraiser. Photo courtesy Empty Bowls Bay Ridge Project
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Visitors who come to the Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church in Bay Ridge on May 2 will get a chance to purchase handcrafted, beautifully decorated bowls that will be on sale at the church on that day only. But the bowls aren’t going to be sold as part of a flea market.

Instead, the bowls are being put up for sale as part of a fundraiser for Bay Ridge programs that provide food for hungry people.

Called the Empty Bowls Bay Ridge Project, the fundraiser is being organized by artists Ed Huml and Danielle Bullock. The sale will take place on Sunday, May 2, at the Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church, 6773 Fourth Ave., from noon to 5 p.m.

This year marks the third year that the Empty Bowls Bay Ridge Project has taken place according to Huml, a potter and art teacher who said the two previous fundraisers generated approximately $2,000 each time.

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Funds raised at the Empty Bowls event will be donated to the Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church for its food pantry.

“What is wonderful about this fundraiser is that all of the funds will be donated to a local organization that fights hunger,” Huml told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday.

The bowls that will go on sale at the church were made by Huml and other potters, who then invited local artists to paint and decorate the items. Painters, graphic artists and book designers all came to decorate bowls.

The Empty Bowls Bay Ridge Project was born out of a desire by Huml and Bullock to do something about hunger in the neighborhood.

“We wanted to find something to do to help. Not all of us are as wealthy as Bill Gates. But all of us can do a little something to help people in need. The truth is that there are a lot of people in Bay Ridge who need a helping hand. Food stamps don’t allow enough to live on,” said Huml, who grew up in the neighborhood.

The Bay Ridge event was inspired by the Empty Bowls Project, an international program in which artists are encouraged to decorate bowls and sell them to raise money and awareness of hunger in their local communities.

The Empty Bowls Project, which is managed by Imagine/Render Group, a non-profit organization, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The project was organized in 1990 by Lisa Blackburn and John Harton, an artist and art teacher in Michigan.

Huml and Bullock, who had heard about the international project, decided three years ago to try holding an event in Bay Ridge.

The project’s name, Empty Bowls, makes sense, according to Huml.

“What symbolizes hunger more than an empty bowl with no food?” he asked.

The beautiful, one-of-a-kind bowls will be on sale for $25 each at the May 2 event.

The Rev. David Aja-Sigmon, pastor of Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church, said he and his parishioners are grateful for the funds.

“Without such help we would not be able to serve the homeless, working, poor and fixed-income seniors of all backgrounds that regularly come looking for help,” he said in a statement. “The partnership with the Empty Bowls Project is one artful way that our neighborhood can join together to extend a hand of compassion to those who are in need.”

In addition to the sale of the handcrafted bowls, the fundraiser will feature performances by local musicians and groups like the Children’s Chorus of Bay Ridge, Secretly Famous, Bob Other and Valerie Gates & Friends. 

“We have a lot of great local musicians coming to perform. It should be a fund day,” Huml said. There will also be activities for children, he said.

For more information on the fundraiser, visit




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