Empty bowls painter has a lifetime of practice


Reporter- Briana Conner
Photographer- Justin Jones

GRAVES COUNTY, Ky.— Next month, the federal government is set to decrease food stamp benefits for about 47 million Americans. As people across the nation begin to worry about how they'll feed their families, a local county is coming together to battle back against hunger.  A local painter is pitched in, and bringing a personal touch along with a lifetime of practice to the table.

She has the tools and a canvas that's a little rounder than usual, but what makes Helen LaFrance different is her hands. They have held brushes for longer than most of us have been alive. "I'm 94 and growing," she said.

She'll be 95 next month and said she's been painting since before she can remember.  "Is painting something I enjoy? Painting is my life. It's been my life a long time. I made my living painting when I wasn't this old," she said.

Painting is a passion she's bringing to the empty bowls project to help battle hunger in Graves County. "I'm very impressed that she would want to come and participate, and that means a lot to us," said Jackie Puckett with the Mayfield/Graves County Food Pantry. Puckett said every painter at the table will help to make a difference. "Hunger is an international problem, and we take it down to our community. I think it's wonderful that all the people here have a big heart and want to contribute to this cause."

They use an empty bowl to help fill empty stomachs. There is one personally painted by an artist with a lifetime of practice and a quick lesson on how she's made it this far. "Every day is a new day, and I look forward to what's gonna happen that day. That's all," LaFrance said.

The first ever Graves County empty bowls project will be next year on March first at the Trace Creek Baptist Church's Family Life Center. If you'd like to help by painting a bowl, contact Sissy & Me at 270-247-0008. Bowls are $8. The proceeds from the event will go to the Mayfield/Graves County Food Pantry.

Last year, LaFrance received the Folk Heritage Award, one of the Governor's Awards in the Arts presented by the Kentucky Arts Council.