By David Fleet
For more than four decades, Goodrich resident Guy Adamec has molded a career as a master potter, builder and in his words—a “maker.”
“We are so use to machine made objects we look at variations as flaws,” said Adamec, 66. “In reality those are the things that make it interesting. It’s the mark of your hands.”
Adamec, a Franklin Park, Ill. native earned degrees in ceramics from Cranbrook Academy of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and in ceramics and sculpture from Knox College, Ill. He served as fire master at Flint Community Schools for almost 30 years and is currently an instructor at the Flint Institute of Arts where he teaches pottery, sculpture, glazing and experimental glass techniques as well as managing all kilns and firing.
While his stellar academic and professional career has lofted him to the pinnacle of his craft—his work outside the classroom was recently recognized by the Genesee Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution who presented Adamec the DAR Community Service Award.
For 16 years Adamec’s talents have sparked the local growth of the Empty Bowls project. Founded by artists John Hartom and Lisa Blackburn, the Empty Bowls Project uses the ceramic arts to fight hunger. For a donation, the individuals can select one of the handmade bowls—then served a meal of soup and bread in the vessel. The bowls go home with the donor as a reminder of how many people go empty around the world.
“The first year we made only a few hundred (bowls),” said Adamec, who started the project in the Flint area in 1991. “We had soup made at the Flint Methodist Church kitchen, we sold the soup to the community and just like that the bowls were gone.”
Over the years the Empty Bowls project grew prompting a move to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, 2300 Lapeer Road, Flint.
“It started to grow exponentially—we produced about 2,000 bowls last year,” he said. “They (Food Bank of Eastern Michigan) had the network to really make it move. We now have 30 restaurants participate in the project, like Cranberries in Goodrich.”
Area eateries donate soup, Panera Bread donates bread and the cost is $25 per person.
“But it’s growing so fast there’s a limit of how many bowls I can produce here,” laughed Adamec. “The guest can get to see the food bank, it makes people aware of the need.”
Besides donating bowls, plates signed by celebrities, musicians and sports figures for a silent auction are sold during that day.
“Once they are in (the Eastern Michigan Food Bank) you can see how great the place is,” he said. “It’s endless soup and bread with live entertainment. We now have corporate sponsors and are raising serious money.”
In 2016 the total money raised was $60,780, enough to supply 364,680 meals in a 22 county area. This event is on the last Thursday in September.
While the Empty Bowls Project, is a accomplishment in community service, isn’t the only thing Adamec has given to his community. As a teacher for more than 40 years, he uses his experience, knowledge and expertise in education to promote the value and necessity of great education for not only youth, but keeping adults always learning and working toward their potential and goals.
“Working with the public you have a total cross section,” he said. “Some make teaching a challenge, then others make it very rewarding. It’s about community, art is about people doing things together, there’s an interface where ideas are shared.”
Adamec also builds houses and furniture that are environmentally sustainable. He is an active member of Buckham Gallery in Flint and co-coordinate a show with ceramicist Craig Hinshaw titled “Flint Water Crisis” highlighting artist’s response to the toxic water crisis in Flint. Children in poverty and poverty alleviation is high on Adamec’s list of causes he works for and cares about.
“Surround yourself with like minded people,” he said. “Art it’s not stagnate, that’s why I’m still here. It keeps growing.”