On any normal day, Michael Terra’s workshop bulges with a variety of pieces that are, let’s say, different. It offers bowls shaped like human heads, ceramic postcards and art brandishing deep, thought-provoking quotes that he made up himself.
Now, while his walls still hold the pieces he has become known for, his floor and shelves are a different story. In those places, all that can be seen is bowls.
The bowls, which now exceed 800, are part of Terra’s Empty Bowls Project of Paducah, which will raise money for the Community Kitchen, 1200 Jefferson St. It serves more than 50,000 meals per year to the city’s hungry.
“It’s an uncomfortable awareness,” Terra said. “We aren’t looking 8,000 miles away saying that ‘Look, those people are hungry.’ We are looking next door. That is a much tougher thing to deal with.”
For more than a month, Terra and the Paducah community have been making, glazing and donating bowls to the project. The event will culminate in an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord local eateries will provide at the Robert Cherry Civic Center on Saturday. Visitors can pay $15 for a ticket in advance or at the door, which will earn them one bowl and access to food. The bowls are theirs to keep.
“People can take these home and use them again,” said Sally Michelson, director of the Community Kitchen. “They will sit on their shelf as a reminder of how they donated to a good cause and that there are hungry people in our community that need their help.”
The project, which started with about 5,000 postcards being distributed around the city and Terra making bowls on his own, has the potential to raise $10,000 for the Community Kitchen. The Star, Flamingo Row, Whaler’s Catch, The Pasta House, Artisan Kitchen, Shandies, Kirchhoff’s Bakery, Etcetera Coffeehouse and Tribeca are among the participating restaurants.
“It was a very non-technological, old-fashioned concept and worked with very basic, human old-fashioned networking,” Terra said. “It allowed people to be excited and talk and let that travel. All of this has happened really from human to another.”
The event has been a community effort. Although Terra has led the effort, nursing homes, area schools and other artists have contributed. Terra has also allowed people to come glaze the bowls before they were fired, holding “glazing parties” in his Lower Town studio.
“I don’t feel compelled to change people,” Terra said. “Because I know a lot of people will look at this and say, ‘This is something I can do. I can help with this.’”
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652.
Want to go?
- What: The Empty Bowls Project of Paducah
- Where: Robert Cherry Civic Center, 2701 Park Ave.
- When: Noon-5 p.m.
Tickets are $15 and be purchased in advance at Etcetera Coffeehouse, 320 N. Sixth St., or Terra Cottage Ceramics, 514 N. Seventh St. They are also available at the door.