Fire is considered a metaphysical constant of the world. Its tale in our history is as long as the trails of smoke it exudes. Its impact on our figurative and literal landscape radiating into the past, present, and future.

In Greek Mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to man, but was punished for the gift. The mythical Phoenix is used to signify rebirth, consumed by fire every five hundred years yet rising from the ashes anew. In the practice of alchemy, the elemental weapon of fire is considered to be the wand – and in our case it is the carving tool and the blowpipe. Yet all instruments are used to yield power over their surroundings. At its most elemental, fire is a bonding of the weak and the strong to create an ignition point and finally—a flame.

Each work by each artist has journeyed far. From humble granular beginnings of air, earth, sand, and water to broken tubes of color, mounds of clay, sketches on paper, and drops of paint, they have experienced an odyssey of formation and discovery, manipulated by the hands of two masters and the commonality of two-thousand degrees of heat that binds both the glass and the ceramics.

2,000 Degrees: A Fire Odyssey is a three-dimensional exhibition that features whimsical hand-built ceramic sculptures by Japanese artist Kensuke Yamada and exquisite glass creations by Danville native Stephen Rolfe Powell, and highlights new collaborative pieces created by the artists specifically for this show.

That fire is at the core of their art is lost on neither of these extraordinary artists. One begins with clay, the other with glass, but their respective practices guide them to their nexus: the extreme two-thousand degree heat of the furnace. Though the possibility of collaboration was prompted by the Norton Center, the fantastic pieces that result are the culmination of Stephen and Kensuke’s creative partnership. Twice forged by fire, these pieces will form the center of the exhibition.

This is Stephen Rolfe Powell’s first exhibition in Danville since 2013.

Stephen Rolfe Powell is professor of art at Centre College. He has taught at Centre College 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 a Stodghill Endowed Professorship since its inception in 2004. In 2004, he was awarded the Acorn Award for outstanding professor at a Kentucky college or university. In 2012, he was awarded the Distinguished Educator Award from the James Renwick Alliance, Washington DC.

Powell 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 the 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.

Powell 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 Centre College glass program has hosted many visiting artist including Dante Marioni, Janusz Pozniak, Richard Royal, James Mongrain, Richard Jolley, Marvin Lipofsky and Lino Tagliapietra eight times. Centre awarded Lino Tagliapietra an honorary doctoral degree in 2004.

During sabbatical leaves from Centre, Powell has been a guest teacher and artist in the Soviet Union, Australia, and New Zealand.

Powell studied at The Provincetown Painting Workshop, received a B.A. in painting and ceramics from Centre, and an M.F.A. from Louisiana State University.

Kensuke Yamada was born in Japan and came to the US to attend Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA where he received his BA. He continued his ceramics education at the University of Montana, receiving his MFA in 2009. Since then, he has been a Resident Artist at the Archie Bray Foundation, MT, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, ME, Oregon College of Arts and Crafts, Portland, OR, The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA, and a Guest Artist/Adjunct Instructor at the Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, A Visiting Artist/Ceramics Studio Technician/Adjunct Faculty at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR. He is currently Visiting Assistant Professor at Centre College, Danville, KY. Yamada is a sculptor that creates layered narratives within his figurative works.

Head, 2017
Dimensions: 21″hx17″w x 15″dp
Materials: Stoneware, Gold Luster

September – December 2017

This exhibit is free and open to the public 9 am – 4 pm Monday through Friday, as well as by appointment and when the Norton Center is open for concerts and related activities.

October 19 | 5:30 – 7:30 PM

The Norton Center will host a reception and gallery talk with the artists on Thursday, October 19, 2017 from 5:30 – 7:30 PM in the Norton Center Grand Foyer.  This event is FREE and open to the public, but RSVPs are kindly appreciated. Click here for details.

This exhibition is made possible by a gift from

In kind support has been provided by