Fact No. 265. (Published on 10/8/2005)

Stephen Rolfe Powell

Stephen Rolfe PowellGlassblower Stephen Rolfe Powell was born in Alabama in 1951, received a Bachelor of Arts in Painting and Ceramics at Centre College in Kentucky and his Master of Fine Arts at Louisiana State University.

Powell currently lives in Kentucky and is one the most highly regarded living glass blowers. He is also the driving force behind Centre College's (where he now teaches) emergence as one of the nation's more important glass teaching centers. He has exhibited and taught internationally and was one of only eight American artists invited to exhibit at "Venezia Aperto Vetro" in Venice in 1998.

Powell's work is distinctively large, bright and colorful. He includes Richard Marquis, Georges Seurat, and Mark Rothko among his influences. The distinctive style of his work is the result of his own adaptation of techniques developed hundreds of years ago by the Italian murrini masters. One of his trademark large, lobed vessels will start with the creation and placement of over 2,500 murrini slices.

Powell describes his technique as being "on the edge of disaster" – only about 20% of what he and his team creates ever make it to a gallery.

In addition to his considerable technical skill and artistic talent, Powell is a strong advocate of art education and has twice been named the Kentucky Professor of the Year by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

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