Tom Perry is a Houston artist who works out of his garage studio in the Rice University area.
He’s a potter and he sits at his wheel, turning a lump of clay into a bowl.
“So first the ball of clay needs to be centered on the wheel. And then when it’s centered, I make a hole in the middle. And then I start to pull the clay out to create more of a wall.”
Perry makes all sorts of pottery, but right now all of his energy is focused strictly on bowls. He’s the co-founder and chairman of Empty Bowls Houston, a fundraising event for the Houston Food Bank.
“I like to make bowls, they’re fairly easy to make, there aren’t any handles. And they’re just the right size for soup and salad and cereal. It’s a common need and it also represents the tradition of how humankind has been able to serve and store food for millennia.”
For $25, visitors to Empty Bowls will get a bowl of soup and bread for lunch, plus a hand-crafted bowl made by one of the many artists participating. All of the food and bowls are donated, so 100 percent of the money goes to the food bank.
Houston Food Bank CEO Brian Green says about half of the households they serve are working households — where one or more adult has a job — but there’s not enough money to pay for everything.
“Hunger in Houston is a function of inadequate income to meet the basic needs. And food for low income families is actually their most flexible expense. You can’t cut back on your rent, you can’t cut back on your utilities. You’ve got to pay it all or your lights will be cut off and you’ll become homeless, but food you can cut back on.”
Empty Bowls Houston is this Saturday from 11am to 3 p.m. at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, in the Museum District.
The event has raised about $270,000 for the food bank in the past seven years. Tom Perry says they’re hoping to add another $50,000 this year.