|Centre professor big hit at Olympics
RELEASED: Feb. 28, 2002
DANVILLE, KY-Stephen Powell has been across the globe demonstrating his acclaimed brand of art.
But the Centre College professor of art said he'll be hard pressed to match the excitement he and his crew experienced at the recently concluded 2002 Winter Olympics.
Powell and his assistants created blown glass in front of enthusiastic audiences Feb. 18-19 in Salt Lake City during the Olympic's World Party celebration.
The crew's work not only drew attention from the cheering crowds in attendance, but also from several media outlets, including a film crew from the Mexican television network, Televisa.
"The spirit of the Olympics made it exciting," Powell said. "I think it helped people get past the tragedies of September 11. Everyone there was so psyched, happy and nice. It was the opposite of how we all felt following September 11."
Powell was assisted by four other Centre glass artists: Centre graduates Alysia Fischer, Chris Bohach and Che Rhodes and senior D.H. McNabb.
The crew blew glass at a mobile glass studio provided by New York's Corning Museum of Glass. Corning also provided an emcee who explained the process of glass blowing to the crowds and helped lead the audience in cheering for the crew.
At one point, Powell and his assistants were projected on a 150-foot screen that was set up at the Gallivan Center, where the World Party was held.
The Centre crew said they were pleased with the vessels they created, and one was purchased to be given to Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympics Committee.
But it wasn't all work and no play. The team took in some Olympic events, did some sightseeing and even had a chance to hang out with some Olympic celebrities.
Dr. Art Ulene, the medical expert on NBC's Today Show for nearly 20 years, hosted the group in a day of skiing. Ulene and Powell became friends a few years ago after meeting in New Jersey.
They also ran into Russian figure skaters Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, who were the co-Gold Medal winners in the much-publicized skating scandal.
U.S. figure skater Todd Eldredge was staying at the crew's hotel.
"We ran into him about three times," Fischer said with a laugh. "I think he thought we were stalking him by the end of our trip."
Powell said the hot item was U.S.A. berets. Hundreds of people were in line for them before the gift shops even opened, and he added that the $20 hats were going for $100 on the street.
McNabb said one interesting aspect of the trip was the diversity of the people there.
"There was a mix. You'd meet Mormons, then you'd run into some punk rockers."
The crew returned to campus late last week, and they were back in the glass studio early Monday morning working on another piece.
Powell is a Centre alumnus who has taught at the school since 1983. He's an internationally known artist whose elaborately colored glass vessels are held in permanent collections throughout the world (including the Hermitage Museum in Russia, the Lvov Art Institute in the Ukraine, the Birmingham (Ala.) Museum of Art, the Huntsville (Ala.) Museum of Art, and the Detroit Art Institute).
For more on the work on Stephen Rolfe Powell, go to http://www.stephenrolfepowell.com/.
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