Making A Difference: Auction benefits Centre's glass program, honors its founder

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Posted at 8:00 PM, Dec 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-21 08:06:55-05

BOYLE COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Officials at Centre College are auctioning off blown glass bottles in the shape of the iconic Maker's Mark bottle to honor the memory of a beloved professor.

"He could be the coolest guy in the room, and he could be the goofiest guy in the room at the same time," Che Rhodes said of his former professor, artist Steve Powell.

Shawn Lyons, the college's Vice President for Development and Alumni Engagement, described the fun and unique professor as a "unicorn."

Powell started Centre's glass program in 1985. "His passion for glass was infectious," reads one description of him. Powell taught Centre's next generation of glass blowing students, but for some of those in his class, he was more than just a teacher. Powell was a mentor and a friend.

"I literally owe my life to him. I would not be alive, or at least not a free person, if I hadn't crossed paths with him," Rhodes told LEX 18's Kristen Edwards.

To honor Powell, about 20 artists created glass bottles and are auctioning them off. The art pieces are in the shape of the Maker's Mark bottles to honor a partnership between Powell and the distillery before his death. Powell was working with Maker's Mark to come up with a similar auction for a charity.

This auction will fulfill that plan and have the money go to the college's glass program through the Stephen Rolfe Powell Memorial Fund at Centre.

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There are 89 blown glass bottles up for auction. Bids start at $500.

As of Dec. 21, $35,000 was raised through the online auction. $55,000 was raised in total, through the online auction and the auction at Maker's Mark.

The items will be sold at the Centre Associates Dinner on Jan. 31, 2020 at the Omni in Louisville.

People who are interested can contact Shawn Lyons at (859) 238-5513 or