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Stephen Rolfe Powell

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Stephen Rolfe Powell
(Birmingham, Alabama, 1951 - 2019)

Stephen Rolfe Powell was known as a prominent artist of the American Studio Art Glass movement, particularly for his use of Italian "murrine", incorporating thousands of tiny beads of color that he blew into suggestive, asymmetrical shapes, enhanced by his practice of swinging the hot glass to create forms that seem to flow and swerve even after they cooled into into solid objects. These eccentric sculptural pieces, sporting eccentric tongue-in-cheek titles, are explosions of color that reflect, refract, and transform light into psychedelic-like visions that go beyond the pieces as self-contained objects into installations that embrace their surrounding surfaces. His working practice created spatial fields of color that change and evolve as the viewer moves around his sculpted forms. It is light that energizes these color fields and reflects the influence of the fire, heat, and motion that gave the form its final, everlasting shape.

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Stephen Rolfe Powell discovered the excitement of hot glass as a graduate student at Louisiana State University in the early 1980s. He joined the faculty at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, in 1983, and there inspired many students to become glass artists in their own right. He founded and built that college’s hot glass program in a new, state-of-the-art glass studio designed by Powell and built to his specifications in 1997. After a long career as both a successful teacher as well as workig artist, he passed away in 2019 at the age of 68.

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