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Artful Advocacy: Rebecca Waring-Crane's 'Empty' project raises funds and awareness for childhood hunger in the Alvord Unified School District

Through the poignant symbolism of empty bowls and spoons, local artist Rebecca Waring-Crane sheds light on the often unseen struggle of childhood hunger in Riverside's Alvord community.

Artist Rebecca Waring-Crane has made art for a long time. She has worked in glass and ceramic and so much more. The subject has ranged from the deeply personal to the wildly communal, but always full of concern for its subject. This is certainly true of her latest project, empty. It is an expansive project where she and volunteers made both highly accessible items, empty bowls, and an installation of 504 handmade ceramic spoons, each representing ten children, to highlight food insecurities some Riversiders face.

As a Riverside local and artist in residence with the great people over at Love Riverside, the bowl side of the empty project saw her and local potter Jim Saunders make 100 bowls to be sold, securing funds to directly support providing children in the Alvord with food when they do not have it. This was done by forming a partnership between herself and the local charity Alvord Cares. The first launch of its engagement with the public saw over 40 of these bowls sold and more than $1,000 being raised.

This, though, is just a start as many more bowls will be made and sold, continuing this support long past this individual holiday season. It is not just at this moment that people face hardship, particularly when talking about children. A hungry child isn't one who can do their best and should be helped whenever possible. It is hard for many to see the scale of the problem that even cities the size of Riverside face.

To help with this visualization and, ultimately, understanding, Rebecca Waring-Crane worked with the community. She conceptualized the spoon side of the empty project as one that helped account for each of these children and make clear the need that is faced by so many. Together, she, local artists, and volunteers from a variety of backgrounds came together and participated in spoon-making workshops where they would craft the ceramic spoons by hand, each being a unique and special object, and talk about not just the numbers but how to provide help.

As was mentioned earlier, 504 spoons were made, and each of these represented ten children who faced food insecurity in Alvord School District Elementary schools. These were a symbol then of the over 5,000 students that may face challenges due to being hungry. The effect that has can be staggering.

These spoons were brought together in an installation that accompanied the first sale of bowls in a beautiful way. The frame of a house was built much in the style an elementary school kid would, and from its rafters hung each spoon. Each is a different height and position, just as each student is unique, even though they are commonly discussed as a unit. Hopefully, everyone who sees the project, at the very least, is filled with this knowledge and, if possible, chooses to support a cause that can help make fewer bowls empty for those around them.

Learn more about the artist at