Studio Art Faculty
Judith Pointer Jia is H. W. Stodghill, Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill professor of art at Centre College where she has taught since 1998. She received a Kirk Teaching Excellence award in 2016.
As the head of the ceramics studio, Jia teaches all levels of ceramics as well as introductory drawing classes. Her experience teaching both drawing and ceramics extends back to graduate school at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth where she was awarded instructor of record positions in both areas.
Jia’s artwork is created from fine porcelain and stoneware. Her forms are delicate slab constructions that are often closed and seem full of air. A variety of subtly colored glazes and stains envelop the forms. Her work has been chosen for exhibition and won awards in several national competitions including Prevailing Winds, Current Trends in Contemporary American Ceramics, at Young and Constantin Gallery in Wilmington, Vt., and the Wichita National All Media Craft Exhibit, at the Wichita Center for the Arts. A piece was recently shown at the Gaolin International Biennial Ceramic Exhibition at the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute in China. She regularly exhibits her work at the Ann Tower Gallery in Lexington, Ky., and the Kentucky Museum of Art + Design in Louisville.
In 2004, Jia was awarded an Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council which she used to fund travels in China. There she visited cities noted for their history of ceramic production, touring old kiln sites and contemporary artist’s studios. She also spoke with ceramic scholars with expertise in the ceramics of the Song and Yuan dynasties, eras whose ceramics Jia has long admired for their elegant forms and glazes.
Jia is also the coordinator of the AEGON Gallery, which is on campus.
File last updated: 6/26/17
Isabella La Rocca joined the Centre College faculty as assistant professor of art in 2017.
LaRocca is an artist working primarily with photography and motion pictures. Her work is part of a long tradition in photography: to bring to light and find beauty in the hidden, unconscious, commonplace, and disregarded. Awards for her work include the Ferguson Grant from the Friends of Photography in San Francisco for excellence and commitment to the field of photography. Her photographs have been exhibited throughout the United States including a solo show at the Center for Photography in Woodstock, N.Y.
La Rocca earned a B.A. in fine arts from the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.F.A. in photography from Indiana University.
File last updated: 8/25/17
Stephen Powell is professor of art at Centre College. He has taught at Centre since 1983. He was named 1999 and 2000 Kentucky Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Counsel for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). He has held Stodghill Professorship since its inception in 2004. In 2004, he was awarded the Acorn Award for outstanding professor at a Kentucky college or university.
Beyond the campus, Powell is an internationally known artist whose elaborately colored glass vessels are held in permanent collections throughout the world. He has been featured on CBS-TV’s Sunday Morning and Kentucky Educational Television and in print media including American Style, Glass, Ceramics Monthly, and Kentucky Monthly, which named him one of Kentucky’s top 20 artists of the 20th century. Powell was one of eight Americans chosen for Venezia Aperto Vetro 1998, a prestigious glass exhibition in Venice. He demonstrates his technique around the country, including at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
In contrast to his delicate, almost unworldly art, Powell is a hard-working, down-to-earth teacher. He puts in long hours in intense small-group instruction to insure that students master the technical aspects of hot glass. Powell also teaches the business aspects of art and gives his students hands-on opportunities to learn about kilns, ovens, and other equipment essential to ceramicists and glass artists. He secured extensive donations that made it possible for Centre students to build a 30-foot anagama kiln that is hand-fired two or three times each year for instructional purposes. Powell also secured donations and then supervised student construction of a state-of-the-art hot glass studio in Centre’s new visual arts center (opened in 1998).
The quality of Powell’s teaching was evident when a 1997 exhibition featuring Kentucky glass artists was dominated by artists who have graduated from Centre during his tenure here.
During sabbatical leaves from Centre, Powell has been a guest teacher and artist in the Soviet Union, Australia, and New Zealand.
Powell holds a B.A. in painting and ceramics from Centre, and an M.F.A. from Louisiana State University.
To read about Powell’s receiving The Artist Award by the Governor’s Awards in the Arts, the commonwealth’s highest honor in the arts, click here. To view a video about his artwork that connects mathematics with blown glass ornaments, click here.
File last updated: 8/6/13
Glassblowing and ceramics — Apprenticeships for artists — Kiln construction
Internationally known artist whose elaborately colored three-foot glass vessels are held in permanent collections throughout the world. One of eight Americans chosen for 1999 show in Venice. Appearances on CBS TV’s Sunday Morning and Kentucky Educational Television. 1999 Kentucky Professor of the Year (CASE-Carnegie). Vigorous advocate of art apprenticeships to give aspiring artists a firm grounding in the techniques of art as well as marketing and sales. Successful at securing corporate donations for a new student-built hot glass studio (opened in 1997) as well as a 30-foot outdoor anagama kiln.
Sheldon Tapley was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela to British parents. He was raised in Europe and North America. He has taught at Centre College since 1983, and held the Paul L. Cantrell Professorship of Art from 2002-2005. In 2005 he was named Stodghill Professor of Art. He received the Kirk Award for excellence in teaching in 2015.
Tapley is a nationally recognized artist whose paintings are held in museum, academic, corporate, and private collections across the United States. In the spring of 2004, the Evansville Museum of Art presented a major retrospective exhibit of Tapley’s art, displaying thirty of his still-life works from the last ten years.
American Artist magazine published one of his large still-life paintings on its cover in November 1999 along with a feature article inside. In that article the writer asserts that Tapley “masterfully blends hard-earned classical technique with a vision that is thoroughly modern and personal.” The New Yorker reviewed his 1998 show at Tatistcheff Gallery in New York City, commenting that the “works are intelligently composed and executed with polished skill.”
At the beginning of his career in the early 1980s, Tapley was a printmaker and abstractionist working with bold colors and textures. Gradually, he returned to the direct observation that made his first experiences in art exciting. A desire to describe his own surroundings led him to paint the landscape, making modern realist images that won wide praise in a series of exhibitions at Linda Schwartz Gallery. In the mid-90’s, the artist changed his focus again, creating the energetic still-life images for which he is now known.
The artist was honored with a 1998 Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council. Kentucky Educational Television featured the artist in its 2001 series “Looking at Painting.” He was filmed and interviewed in his studio and also at the Speed Museum in Louisville, discussing the museum’s recent acquisition, a still-life painting by Cezanne. In 2003, the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art exhibited a selection of his works from the past twelve years.
Tapley continues to exhibit at Tatistcheff Gallery, located in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. He regularly speaks at art events and judges competitive exhibitions.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate holding a 1980 B.A. from Grinnell College, Tapley received an M.F.A. from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1983.
To read about Tapley’s recent solo show, click here.
To read about the annual summer art workshop led by Tapley, click here.
File last updated: 06/05/15
Kensuke Yamada joined the Centre College faculty in 2016 as visiting assistant professor of art.
His ceramics figurative work embodies enchantment and is inspired by universal experiences. He uses gestures, textures and patterns to relate simple, yet meaningful body language and facial expressions, all the while creating a rhythm that literally brings his figures to life. He spent the month of May 2016 as Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art’s latest Martin Shallenberger Artist-in-Residence, creating the playful sculptures for his exhibition, Diving Through Clouds. This film documents the entire process of Kensuke’s residency from creation of the work to the final installation of the exhibition https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSSnl2tkuHw.
Yamada earned a B.A. in studio art from The Evergreen State College, and an M.F.A. in studio art from The University of Montana.
File last updated: 8/8/2016