Stephen Rolfe Powell describes his artistic process as everything at once with gravity and centrifugal forcelike having the 20 years it might take to grow a tree happen in just a few moments before your eyes. A visit to Powells studio is joined with a profile of another renowned Kentucky artistautomata artist Steve Armstrongin the Kentucky Muse documentary Fire and Motion.
In the hourlong program these two visionary Kentucky artists discuss and demonstrate the methods and insights expressed in their works.
Powell, a professor of art at Centre College in Danville, creates spectacular glass sculpturesvessels of fantastic, attention-grabbing shapes decked in flashing, vibrant color. His career in glass has developed around his own high-energy and performance-driven passion for art. Kentucky Muse visits him in his elementthe fast-paced yet smoothly executed dance of creation in the glass studio he helped construct on Centres campus. Youll see some examples of his work and how it is made, and youll also hear from some of the students, faculty, and artists his fiery glass has helped to inspire.
If fire is the domain of Powell, Steve Armstrongs focus is on movement and interactivity between art work and viewer. His automata sculpture pieces combine an elegant sense of detail and design with imagination. Armstrong specializes in animated sculpture, or, as he puts it, automata. According to automata.co.uk, automata, sometimes referred to as Mechanical Toys or Kinetic Art, are marvelous small machines that utilize most of the mechanical processes which can be found in almost every modern machine employing cams, gears, ratchets and cranks.
Sculpting from wood of various grains, textures, and colors, Armstrong creates works based on simple mechanisms that offer the observer a chance to add his or her own energy to the art. With the viewers help, the objects within the sculpture move, often revealing surreal scenes and some bizarre creatures.
Armstrongs work has been procured by galleries, educational institutions, and museums throughout the country. Heres how the John Pence Gallery in San Francisco describes Armstrongs automata: They stand tall, they whirl and spin, and they open to reveal an amazing sense of humor. Kentucky Muse travels to Armstrongs home studio, observes the craftsman at work, and introduces viewers to the interactive and whimsical fun of animated sculpture.
What motivates artists and drives their passion? How does a work of art move from concept and idea to the physical end product and what happens in between? Find out as Kentucky Muses Fire and Motion brings you into the heart of the action for two inventive and inspired Kentucky artists.