Isaac Powell

Isaac Powell has been a professor in Eastern Kentucky University’s School of Art and Design for the past 13 years. During his time here, he’s enjoyed teaching his students how to express themselves through painting, as well as creating and displaying his own art. 

Powell enjoyed drafting in architecture classes while in high school, drawing machine parts in projects. He had planned to go to college for architecture, but decided to major in forestry because of his love for plants. While in college however, Powell found out he didn’t enjoy forestry as much as he thought he would. 

“My parents actually nudged me in the direction of art, and drawing specifically. I had always loved to draw since I was a little kid, and didn’t think it would be a viable pursuit, monetarily. But it turns out it was,” said Powell. 

The style in his own art reflects his interest in both architecture and plant life. Many hallmarks of Powell’s style involve flowers, vases and nontraditional landscapes. Powell said that his works mainly consist of ‘non traditional still lifes,’ with an emphasis on adding texture through detail. Many of his works also incorporate incomplete plants into the artwork. 

“Plants and pottery, and the plants will be in different states of completion, maybe decay. The plants are analogous of my hand,” said Powell. 

Powell was born without his right hand, and utilizes symbolism throughout his art to portray that. He portrays his disability through his art, and has done so since he began drawing in college.

“So, think about the leaves of the trees being on the limbs, and the leaves, the petals, are similar to my hand. So they’re representative of that, and sometimes my prosthetic, too,” said Powell.

Powell began teaching at EKU in 2009, primarily teaching drawing and painting classes in the art department. He enjoys the facilities he has in the Campbell Building. The studios he works in provide controlled lighting and good ventilation, which Powell said is important to teach students to pay attention to details like lighting in a drawing. 

Powell’s favorite part of teaching is seeing students develop their own style of drawing and painting as they learn the basics of both skills. 

“I like the beginning classes because you’re able to see the most growth from the students. They kind of have aha moments, or moments when they realize they’re accomplishing something.” said Powell. “Not that that doesn’t happen in advanced classes. It’s more readily available in the beginning classes,” 

When teaching his students, Powell aims to teach them how to express themselves through their art as he learned to in college. 

“Taking painting classes with professor Powell has impacted my life substantially and further fostered my love of art and creating. The students in the EKU Art and Design program are very fortunate to have him as their teacher,” said Melody Engle, a junior studio art and design major from Somerset, Ky. 

He also likes being involved with what his students are working on and seeing them improve. 

“Professor Powell is a great professor. He’s very involved with his students and his assignments are very enjoyable, because he lets you have creative control,” said Emelinda Perkins, a sophomore studio art and design major from Richmond, Ky. 

Powell has displayed his art across the country and will continue to work on more pieces in the future.

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