Beatrice Stebbing

Beatrice Stebbing

2002 Award Recipient | Stained Glass, Siloam Springs

Beatrice Stebbing was the first artist to be honored as an Arkansas Living Treasure in 2002 for her work as a stained glass maker. A Texas native, Stebbing died in Siloam Springs on Jan. 9, 2004, at the age of 86.

Stebbing's interest in art began when she was in the fourth grade. She was influenced by her uncle Alexandre Hogue, an internationally known realist painter famous for his Southwestern and Midwestern landscapes during the Dust Bowl. She majored in painting, earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Texas State College for Women in Denton (now Texas Women's University).

She received a graduate scholarship and part-time teaching position, which stipulated that her thesis project would be creating the first two stained glass windows for a chapel that was being built on campus, known as the "Little Chapel-in-the-Woods." It was this project that would determine her course for the rest of her life.

Stebbing and the students she directed worked for three years on the chapel project. She learned as much as she could about the field of stained glass from reading book after book after book. But she gained the most knowledge and hands-on instruction from a professional artist to whom she wrote named Emil Frei, Jr., of St. Louis. She and the students made many visits to his studio to watch his craftsmen work. According to an article in the Dallas Morning News printed on August 7, 1939, the chapel had the “only stained glass windows in the South done from original designs by amateur artists.”

After the chapel project was complete, Stebbing taught art history and design for two years at a junior college in Dallas. During this time, she accepted a position to head the art department and lead another stained glass window chapel project at Central State College in Edmond, Okla. While teaching a course to male students who might be drafted for World War II, she met her husband, Franklin H. Stebbing, who would later become a Presbyterian minister. They were married for 50 years, during which they lived in seven different communities in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Stebbing taught the art of stained glass for 25 years to hundreds of individuals. In Siloam Springs, she taught art in the junior and senior high schools for 13 years, as well as teaching workshops at the Northwest Arkansas Vocational Technical School. Since the schools had limited funds for art supplies, she even provided her own supplies, such as glass cutters and scraps of glass she had been saving for 50 years.

In 1982, the Western Region of the National Art Education Association honored her with an Art Educator Award. After retiring from teaching, Stebbing opened her studio for workshops, where she taught more than 250 individuals.

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