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Kentucky Artisan Center presents new exhibit by internationally-renowned artists Powell, Sandoval

A new exhibit recognizing internationally known Kentucky artists Stephen Rolfe Powell and Arturo Alonzo Sandoval was announced this week by the Kentucky Artisan Center. As innovators in their respective fields, both Powell and Sandoval have expanded boundaries by utilizing unusual materials and pushing their mediums into new and exciting formats.

A Meet-the-Artist reception will be held on Sept. 9 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. “Innovators,” the exhibit of works by Powell and Sandoval, will be showcased at the Kentucky Artisan Center through Feb. 28, 2019.

Fire is a primary element and Stephen Rolfe Powell uses it to explore the power of color with glass. The evolution of his work from vessels to sculptures, to walls, gives insight into his continuing delight in the process of creation and his drive for discovery in glass.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Powell graduated from Centre College in Danville with a BA degree in painting and received an MFA in ceramics from Louisiana State University. During graduate school summers, Powell went to Haystack School of Craft and Penland School of Crafts where he was drawn to the extraordinary glass being made there. It was the color, the dramatic process, and the team effort required in the creation of glass that appealed to him. While his degree was in ceramics, Powell was determined to become a glass artist.

Returning to Kentucky to teach ceramics and sculpture at Centre, he began building a glass studio on the rooftop above the ceramics studio. He then designed a state-of-the-art glass studio which Centre opened as part of their new Jones Visual Arts Center in 1998.

As a seminal force in glass in Kentucky and a professor since 1983, Powell has attracted prospective students from all over the country. A hot glass studio requires teamwork and his students soon become not only his assistants but also an integral part of creating his works. Many of Powell’s assistants and students are now recognized glass artists on their own.

Powell has always been intrigued by fire, and by how glass conveys color. His work is recognized by his use of murrini – slices of colored glass – arranged to expand during the glassblowing process to become the brilliantly colored surfaces of his forms.

Powell’s non-traditional studio methods have set him apart as an innovator in his field. Driven by the intense and strenuous process itself, he continues his journey with glass into the realm of architecture. His newest works called “Zoomers” are walls of glass with arresting colors and patterns composed from thousands of murrini. This exhibit illuminates the progression of Powell’s passion for color, process and the dance of the making.

Powell’s contributions to his field include exhibitions, workshops, demonstrations and lectures across the globe. He has worked in Russia, Ukraine, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Twice awarded Kentucky’s “Teacher of the Year” award, in 2004, he was presented the Acorn Award by the Kentucky Council on Post-Secondary Education. Powell received the Kentucky Governor’s Artist Award in the Arts and the Rude Osolnik Craftsman Award and in 2012, he was presented with the Distinguished Educator Award from the James Renwick Alliance in Washington, D.C. His work is in the collections of the Auckland Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Corning Glass Museum, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Hermitage and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts among others.

Fiber artist Arturo Alonzo Sandoval weaves textile materials that reflect the elements of today’s culture. His larger than life works address political and social themes in his ongoing effort to understand the world around him. His weavings break the boundaries of traditional textiles to become statements of contemporary and personal truth.

Sandoval was born in Espanola, New Mexico, into a family with both Hispanic and Native American roots. His mother, Cecilia E. Archuleta, wove 60 blankets and at the age of 40, Sandoval discovered that ancestors on his father’s side (Lorenzo Sandoval) had been weavers of colonial Spanish textiles for more than 250 years. Sandoval believes that this textile ancestry has directed his work in fiber arts.

While in college, Sandoval says that he experienced a spiritual voice telling him “weaving will be very important to you.” He took his first beginning-weaving course while in graduate school, and looking back, he wonders if indeed an ancestor was showing him the direction his life would take.

Sandoval completed both his BA and MA degrees at California State College–Los Angeles. Interrupted in 1965, by a tour of duty in Vietnam, he returned to the states to finish his MA degree in sculptural fiber art. He earned his MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1971, and in 1973 joined the faculty at the University of Kentucky, where he taught until his retirement.

Sandoval’s fiber art created a new contemporary aesthetic when he began weaving recycled industrial materials such as computer tape, battery cables, microfilm, Mylar, Holographic film and Lurex. Whether using a floor loom, sewing machine, interlacing or simply combining new age materials in a collage or assemblage process, Sandoval has done a great deal to put textile art on an entirely different plane of relevance, innovation and design. The large format of his textiles require teamwork and his students soon became assistants, helping him interlace and weave the many strands of materials into the finished work. His mantra to his students being, “work produces results.”

The large format works in this exhibit suggest computer circuit boards, motherboards and other technological bits woven by Sandoval into works of monumental scale that suggest mankind might easily become overwhelmed by technology.

Sandoval has contributed to the art world as a textile artist, adjudicator, lecturer, curator, facilitator, board member, mentor, designer and advisor. His art has been shown internationally in Switzerland, Japan, Poland and England. Elected to the American Craft Council Society of Fellows, his art is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, among others. He received both the Kentucky Governor’s Artist Award and the Rude Osolnik Craftsman Award. In 2008, Sandoval was given the University of Kentucky’s highest honor by having the first Endowed Professorship Chair in his name awarded to the College of Fine Arts.

Stephen Rolfe Powell and Arturo Alonzo Sandoval have both pushed their mediums into new worlds of expression. As innovators and seminal artists in their respective fields, they have led by example and transformed their passion into works of great vision and beauty.

The Kentucky Artisan Center, located just off I-75 at Berea Exit 77, features works by 800 Kentucky artists from more than 100 counties across the Commonwealth. For more information about events call (859) 985-5448, go to the Center’s website or visit us on Facebook.

The Center’s exhibits, shopping, and travel information areas are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the Artisan Café is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

From Kentucky Artisan Center

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