Stephen Rolfe Powell is a self-proclaimed pyromaniac.
The glass artist and Centre College professor started his career as a painter but later switched to glass, a medium that allowed him the spontaneity and physicality that he needed, he said.
Powell shared the story of his artistic journey Sunday to encourage high school students selected for this year's Governor's School for the Arts program to also explore their creativity.
"You have to find a way to work that matches your personality," he said.
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Powell was the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony of GSA, which takes place for the next three weeks at Transylvania University. This year, 225 rising high school juniors and seniors were selected from more than 1,600 applicants from across the state to receive in-depth instruction in one of nine disciplines: architecture, creative writing, dance, drama, instrumental music, musical theater, new media, visual art and vocal music.
"You've been chosen to be here because you've shown extraordinary potential in the arts," Powell said to the students.
Activities will include classroom instruction, presentations from guest artists, field trips and a community service day, GSA executive director Heather Weston Bell said.
"We talk about it being an arts boot camp because it's an intensive experience," she said.
GSA organizers faced the same problems as other state-funded programs this year: budget cuts. GSA accepted 16 fewer students after the state's contribution to the program was cut by 24 percent, Bell said. GSA relies on state money, grants, donations and corporate sponsorship to provide the programs to students for free.
But similar programs across the country have been eliminated because of a lack of funding, Bell said.
"We feel pretty fortunate," she said.