Stephen Beal (1939-2010):
2008 Lillian Elliott Award Recipient


Last Work

Fontleroy Plantation, 2009
68” x 68”
Embroidery on linen.

Stephen Beal - Fontleroy Plantation
Stephen Beal, Fontleroy Plantation, 2009.

Stephen Beal - Fontleroy Plantation (detail)
Detail - Fontleroy Plantation.

Stephen Beal wrote of his installation, Fontleroy Plantation, (which was featured in the April/May 2010 issue of Fiberarts), “The work consists of three needlepoint panels: Panel 1, 20” x 15”; Panels 2 and 3 are 32” square. The panels are bordered by 66 prayer flags, 4” x 5”, one for each of plantation owner Rittenhouse Nutt’s 66 slaves. The work is based on an inventory of Nutt’s possessions at the time of his death in 1862, found in the Hinds County, MS, courthouse by the Reverend Samuel Turner, Jr., of Memphis, when he served as a Tennessee circuit court judge. A great-great grandson of Nutt through union with an unknown slave, Rev. Turner immediately noted in the inventory the identity of his great-grandmother (Frances, 18 yrs, $600), the only written documentation of his family’s oral tradition from Nutt. (African Americans did not receive birth certificates until 1870.) I am Nutt’s great-great grandson by his wife. Sam Turner and I consider each other cousins because we share a sixteenth of our blood from Nutt.”

–Originally published in the Textile Society of America Newsletter, Winter, 2010.

Stephen Beal Obituary, American Craft magazine, July 2010.