Stephen Powell had immeasurable positive impact

Published 7:21 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2019


The Advocate-Messenger

Boyle County and Centre College have lost a giant.

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Stephen Rolfe Powell passed away on Saturday, after living a beautiful, impressive, awe-inspiring 67 years.

Since he began blowing glass almost 40 years ago, Powell’s eye- and light-catching art pieces have spread around the globe. During those same 40 years, Powell grew from an aspiring artist and teacher with ceramics degrees, into the Centre College professor who put a glass studio on top of the Norton Center, into a masterful artist who put Danville, Kentucky, on the map of the glass world.

Powell’s art and face have made regular appearances in glass art publications for years; he was close friends with the world’s greatest glass “maestro,” Lino Tagliapietra; he has appeared on CBS Sunday Morning; he has been named on Kentucky’s top artists of the 20th century by Kentucky Monthly; he was Kentucky’s Professor of the Year in 1999 and 2000; his art has been on display at the winter olympics; he was part of a globally significant glass art exhibition in Venice in 1998; he has too many awards, recognitions and distinctions to list; and he has trained and guided two generations of new glass workers and artists through the Centre College glass program he founded.

But perhaps more important than the fame and success, Powell was a positive and inspirational influence on his home community.

Powell’s art is on display throughout Danville and Boyle County, including the giant, moving “Time Zippy” installation in the foyer of the Boyle County Public Library. His individual pieces brighten work spaces and public gathering spaces all over the community.

Powell has used his art to benefit worthy causes, including protecting wildlife habitats and funding Danville’s Wilderness Trace Child Development Center. He has put on countless demonstrations for specific groups and the public, allowing them to see not just the beauty of his completed artworks, but the breathtaking process of creating them.

Powell’s death last week is a huge loss. But it does not negate all the amazing gains his friends, family and community realized because of his life. His art, his contributions to his community and those who have been inspired by him will carry forward his legacy for generations to come.