Centre College is known for its consistent ability to bring global opportunities to campus for its students. The College will continue that commitment April 28-30, when internationally acclaimed Italian glass artist Lino Tagliapietra returns to Centre for a ninth visit and the world premiere of a new independent documentary exploring the “glass maestro’s” life, his much-celebrated career and his unique connection to Centre College.
“Lino is the greatest glass artist of all time,” said H.W. Stodghill Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Art Stephen Rolfe Powell, a renowned glass artist himself and close friend of Tagliapietra. “How often does any college or university have the top person in the world, probably of all time, be a part of their community?”
Plans for the documentary developed just before Tagliapietra visited the campus in November 2014, when Powell connected with independent filmmaker, and former student, Tom Thurman ’84, to produce the film.
According to Thurman, the goal was to feature a more personal side of Tagliapietra than had ever before been captured on film, not only documenting his visit to Centre’s campus but also including footage from Venice, where the production crew spent time filming the Italian artist and his family.
“The film is, of course, about Lino’s work in the studio and his unparalleled artistry, but I wanted it to be about much more than that,” Thurman explained. “It’s about his friendship with Steve, his relationship with the College, the bonds that have been created between Lino and the Danville community, as well as his background in Murano, Italy: his roots, his family, his community there.”
Tagliapietra first became connected with Centre by way of Powell, when the two exhibited together in 1996. That pivotal meeting was followed by the Italian glass artist’s first visit to campus in 2000, when the College named Tagliapietra a Humana Distinguished Professor. Centre later awarded him an honorary doctoral degree in 2004.
“As I was getting into glass, Lino was, of course, already a giant in the glass world,” Powell said. “I was intimidated by his presence and in awe of his talent as a glassmaker and as an artist. Now, Lino is truly one of my very best friends.
“His curiosity and view of life have made me look at the world in a different way,” he continued. “Lino has influenced my work in a profound manner that blends how I live with how I work. He has taught me that you have to blend your life and your work if you want to put life in your work.”
Thurman echoed these sentiments, saying working with Tagliapietra on the documentary was “much more than a pleasure—it was an honor and a privilege. Lino gave me more than simply access, he gave me his trust.”
The documentary will be premiered in the Vahlkamp Theater on Centre’s campus April 29 at 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Tagliapietra will also host open studio sessions in the Jones Visual Arts Center hot glass studio, April 28-30 from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day.
by Amy Clark Wise
April 24, 2015