bowls 4
An artist at work on a bowl for the event, and a sampling of the bowls available for purchase, below.
 (Photos by Bob McKay. Click to enlarge)

bowls 3For the second year in a row, the Red Bank-based Art Alliance of Monmouth County will host its Empty Bowls Project at JBJ Soul Kitchen this weekend.

A joint fundraiser to benefit Soul Kitchen and the alliance, the event features a sale of one-of-a-kind, locally made ceramic bowls.

bowls 2Ceramic artist and event coordinator Mil Wexler Kobrinski at her potter’s wheel. (Photos by Bob McKay. Click to enlarge)

Participants make a donation of $20 donation and receive a “pay it forward” coupon that entitles them to select one of the hundreds of handmade bowls, some of them created as part of a collaboration with the Monmouth County Arts Council’s Teen Arts Festival.

The festival, an annual event, offered participating students several workshops in which to make bowls.

During the months of preparation, artists, students, and others have come together to create and decorate the bowls, said ceramic artist and project coordinator Mil Wexler Kobrinski.

This year, with the help of the Holiday Express team, a group of special needs students traveled to a local pottery studio to glaze bowls, and Ceramic Supply of Lodi generously donated clay.

“The important thing is that everybody has been meeting and working on these bowls, coming together as a community with a purpose and a mission,” said Wexler Kobrinski.

That purpose is feeding those who need help providing for themselves. A recent estimate puts the number of individuals experiencing food insecurity in Monmouth County at more than 125,000 individuals. Although such suffering is not necessarily visible, it is very real, especially to those who experience it.

Soul Kitchen serves meals to in-need customers through volunteer work or to paying customers through donation.

“Part of the Soul Kitchen mission is to raise awareness of food insecurity in one’s own community; a project like this is a great way to shed light on community interests and needs,” said Marylou Caputo, Soul Kitchen’s community coordinator.

A board member of the Art Alliance, Wexler Kobrinski’s Master of Fine Arts thesis project focused on Empty Bowls, which is a project of Imagine/RENDER, a 501(c) 3 organization, consisting of an international grassroots effort to raise both money and awareness in the fight to end hunger. The mission is to create positive and lasting change through the arts, education, and projects that build community, she said.

Empty Bowls Project is slated for the organic gardens of Soul Kitchen, at 207 Monmouth Street, from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday.