Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
Exhibition to Open at Kentucky Artisan Center - Glass Works by Stephen Rolfe Powell & His Students
On Saturday, September 29, “Under the Influence: Glass Works by Stephen Rolfe Powell & His Students,” an exhibition featuring an amazing array of works by nine Kentucky glass artisans, will open at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea. Artists included in this exhibition include internationally known glass master Stephen Rolfe Powell and eight glass artists who have all been students and/or apprentices with Powell, who teaches glass at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.
Stephen Rolfe Powell has been seminal to the hot glass movement in Kentucky, and the works by these eight artists and former students of Powell, are a testament to his exceptional teaching and influence. James Yood of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, writes about Powell’s work, “Color delights us from the cradle to grave, it grooves some optical pleasure zone that seems almost beyond language, and it is everywhere celebrated in the almost irrepressibly vivacious glass sculpture of Stephen Rolfe Powell.”
The Kentucky Artisan Center’s exhibition includes three new sculptural pieces by Powell as well as works by Brook White, co-owner of Flame Run Glass in Louisville; Chris Bohach of Lexington; Paul Hugues, Paul Nelson, Naomi Stuecker of Louisville, and John Stokes of London – all glass artists working at Flame Run; Jonathan Swanz of Louisville; and Cynthia Lauren Arnold, a recent Centre College graduate.
Working hot glass requires a team effort. All of these glass artists have learned their art under Stephen Rolfe Powell hands on – many of them assisting in the creation of Powell’s massive works – and then developing their own voices and works in glass.
Brook White established his first glass studio in 1995 in Danville, and then set up and ran the glass studio at Glassworks in Louisville. In 2004, together with Susie Slabaugh he opened Flame Run – the largest glass blowing facility in Kentucky and the region. With 13,000 square feet of studio, Flame Run is where glass artists Paul Hugues, Naomi Stuecker, Paul Nelson, John Stokes and Brook White –continue their creative teamwork.
Brook White excels in utilizing the fluid quality of glass to convey rich layers of color, depth of surface and pattern in his works. By using multiple overlays of glass, his pieces convey a volcanic quality with brilliant surfaces.
While Paul Nelson, Paul Hugues, Naomi Stuecker, and John Stokes all work from Flame Run, their pieces are dramatically different. Nelson creates sculptural shapes in sandblasted matte glass that are unexpected – and speak to the functionality of glass, referencing such everyday objects such as hammers, pliers and other tools.
Paul Hugues works with tiny round pieces of colored glass called murrini which he creates, shapes, slices, and then uses to build wide shallow bowl forms. His works are visual melodies of fresh color that are juxtaposed to create compelling patterns.
Naomi Stuecker creates her work by layering and fusing glass into molds in a kiln. Stuecker also runs the gallery at Flame Run, where she curates exhibitions designed to promote interest in glass.
John Stokes creates works that seem to have exceptional balance – enhanced by texture and juxtaposition of color, and Jonathan Swanz creates rich, colorful forms reminiscent of seed pods and other plant forms. Chris Bohach works within a more sculptural and architectural glass realm. Bohach uses glass along with metal – showcasing the similarity and differences of these two materials.
Especially organic and fragile glass work is also created by Cynthia Lauren Arnold – Centre College’s most recent glass graduate in this exhibit. Her works are made up of abstract matte glass forms joined together to create compositions that suggest a magnified view of the world and contemporary culture.
“Under the Influence: Glass Works by Stephen Rolfe Powell & His Students” will run September 29, 2007 – January 27, 2008, at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea. An artist reception will be held Saturday, December 8, from 1:00 – 3:00 pm, and will include a book signing by Stephen Rolfe Powell, of the newly released book – “Stephen Rolfe Powell: Glassmaker.” The public is invited to these events.
The Kentucky Artisan Center is located just off Interstate 75 at exit 77 (Berea). The Center’s exhibits, shopping, and travel information areas are all open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the café from 8 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Admission is free. The Center currently features works by more than 650 artisans from 90 counties across the Commonwealth. For more information call 859-985-5448 or visit the Center’s web site at www.kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov
The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Commerce Cabinet.