Client: Centre College
Location: Danville, KY, United States
Completion date: 2022
Artwork budget: $400,000
Design and blown glass
Flame Run Glass Studio
structural design and steel fabrication
The Studios of David Caudill
Colorful glass and stainless sculpture garden
The site posthumously honors internationally renowned glassblower and professor Stephen Rolfe Powell with a sculpture garden and outdoor classroom. The largest artwork is a walkthrough blown glass and stainless sculpture that’s 26 ‘H x 20’ in diameter. Other features are 3 stainless benches which also incorporate blown glass, a terrazzo path and benches that serve as an outdoor classroom. The walkthrough sculpture evokes Powell’s iconic vessel-shaped works.
The memorial was designed to ensure lasting appreciation of Powell’s contributions to Centre College. The 3 glass benches incorporated slabs blown by Powell himself. One of them featured replica tennis rackets of stainless steel – while a student, Powell was captain of the tennis team and remained an active, competitive player for the rest of his life. Another bench was built to the specifications of a genuine glassblower’s working bench and included stainless replica tools. The third glass bench was designed to resemble Centre’s architecture as a recognition of Powell’s impact on the academic community. He created the glassblowing program, had been a multi-awarded professor as well as head of the Art Department. Most of Powell’s work used murini, small disks of colored glass, so the memorial incorporated disks into the main structure as well as the outdoor classroom’s terrazzo benches.
The design was created by Brook White, former student and longtime associate of Powell's. Brook's studio also blew the 48 glass disks and created the benches.
My contribution was the structural design of the steel and fabrication. Other collaborators included a noted landscape architect, award-winning terrazzo company and Centre College alumni & staff. Many people who contributed were community volunteers. Brook was the project manager and linked all of us together to work efficiently.
The memorial has become an attraction noted in the state's travel promotions, and it is so well lighted that its nighttime presence is a magnet for area tourists. Stephen Rolfe Powell became one of Kentucky’s most acclaimed artists during his lifetime, and his memorial has become one of the state’s most popular public artworks.