Wayzata High School's Empty Bowls Brings Back Old Friends

The first annual Alumni Art Festival adds a new feature to the celebration.
Wayzata High School's 2011 Empty Bowls event had plenty of students' art on display.

The oldest Empty Bowls celebration in Minnesota will enter its 21st year at Wayzata High School with a new feature: Some old friends will be coming back to support the cause.

Wayzata alumni from as far back as 1991 will be in attendance at the first annual Alumni Art Festival—held in conjunction with Empty Bowls—to show off their pottery work, do demonstrations, and also put their work in the silent auction to raise money for a good cause. Empty Bowls is a fundraiser for Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners (IOCP), geared toward preventing hunger and celebrating art in the community.

“What [the Alumni Art Festival] does is it gets kids to come back and allows the art department to showcase their practicing artist alumni,” says Nancy Hanily-Dolan, a pottery teacher at Wayzata High School. “One of the objectives of Empty Bowls is to keep it fresh year after year, and that’s what we’re doing with this event.”

Hanily-Dolan, the original organizer of the event, has seen it grow and change over the years.

“I originally read about the event in an American Craft Council magazine while I was teaching all seniors at the end of a kiln class [back in 1991],” Hanily-Dolan says. “I was trying to figure out how to keep the kids engaged to the last minute [of the school year], so I suggested the idea and the kids just came alive with the possibility of doing something great.”

Alumni interested in participating in this year’s festival went through a juried art show to make sure their work met festival qualifications. Each participating artist donated one work to the silent auction for Empty Bowls. Famous local artists, including Wayzata alumnus Andy Juelich, will have their work featured at the event.

In past years there has always been a small pottery sale from Wayzata’s AP and advanced pottery students, which Hanily-Dolan says causes quite a stir every year.

The Empty Bowls events over the past 20 years have raised a total of $70,524 for IOCP, including $8,000 last year alone. According to John Sucansky, Wayzata School District communications specialist, there is no set fundraising goal, but the students aim to top the dollar amount of the previous year.

“[Empty Bowls] has evolved with the school environment and the event still drives itself,” Hanily-Dolan says. “I don’t know if it ever stops.”  


If You Go

Date:  Thursday, May 17, 2012

Where: Wayzata High School Cafeteria

When: 5-7 p.m. Silent Auction is held at 5:30 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.

Tickets: $10 and includes a student-made bowl served with bread and soup.

Tickets can be purchased online or at the door the evening of the event.

For more info, go to the Wayzata School District's Empty Bowls page.