Project unites people, experiences in South Whidbey through bowls

Inge Roberts shows an example of the bowls she creates. The Six Bowl project, which began in June this year, is a year-long event seeking to document shared community experiences.  - Celeste Erickson / The Record
Inge Roberts shows an example of the bowls she creates. The Six Bowl project, which began in June this year, is a year-long event seeking to document shared community experiences.
— image credit: Celeste Erickson / The Record

A shared meal, a homecoming, an offering. These are just some of the many ways South Whidbey residents are telling their stories through bowls.

The experience, dubbed the Six Bowl project, was drummed up by Whidbey artist Penny Bauer.

The project is a way of bringing people together and sharing stories through a bowl, which is used as a uniting object.

For Bauer, she wanted to connect people with the resources around them, such as food, recipes and gardens.

Artists working in ceramics and glass created six bowls for the project. The bowls were given to writers and poets, who wrote a piece for each bowl.

In its final phase, which will last through November, the six bowls will be distributed to people throughout the Whidbey community. People are asked to reflect on their own experiences with the project, some of which are documented on the Six Bowls website.

Throughout the year, Bauer will be scouring the community for ways to involve different organizations in the project. She said she wants people from all walks of life and of all ages, not just artists, to be involved and not be intimidated by the writing portion.

“I think there are endless possibilities,” Bauer said.

The project will culminate with an art installation, silent auction and celebration of the work done with the bowls in November. Proceeds of the project will benefit Good Cheer Food Bank in Bayview.

Bauer first contacted Kim Tinuviel about the project in June 2013 to help manage the website. Tinuviel said it took a little bit of time for her to see what Bauer’s vision was. But she found herself more and more enthralled with the idea and wanted to help.

“It’s so different, very few people have done anything like this,” Tinuviel said.

The bowls are designed to be a centerpiece in people’s lives. The poetry that goes with the bowls is an experience itself.

“The words of these poets are powerful on their own,” Tinuviel said. “When you realize it’s someone you know, then that adds another dimension of meaning.”

Langley artist Inge Roberts created one of the bowls for the project, using two of her porcelain bowls fired together.

Roberts said it was symbolic of sharing in the community.

“It’s a natural way to bring people together,” she said.

Roberts said she was grateful for Penny and what she has started.

“Already, I’ve enjoyed meeting people and creating new friendships with the project,” she said.

With each of the six bowls available for one-week slots through November, the project has more than 300 openings to join.

There are many ways the bowls could be used in everyday life. The website details ideas and family events the project could be included in, such as holiday celebrations, potlucks and anniversaries. Tinuviel suggests planning ahead and booking a week during a meaningful time.

For Tinuviel, the project seems to help people build on their already established family and community units. The bowls help give people deeper meaning to these family experiences, she said.

“It’s giving them a central focus on abundance and gratitude,” she said.

Her first encounter was a wonderful experience with the project organizers, she said. Tinuviel described a dark, rainy night with the fire blazing at her home.

“A fantastic evening,” she said.

The group was celebrating with poems and food and sharing their early experiences with the bowls.

“It was a wonderful way to launch because we each got to experience the bowls as we were offering them to the community,” she said.

“We all need more reasons, excuses if you will, to come together,” Tinuviel said. “This is as good as any I’ve ever seen.”


Six Bowls

To read more about the project, or read the experiences from people visit

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