Robert Cameron Steele
January 27 1925- August 2 2018
It is with great sadness that we announce that, after a brief illness, Bob died Thursday, August 2, 2018. He is survived by his wife Mary, his children, Marne, Beth and David, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. At Bob’s request, there will be no service.
Bob Steele was born in Mervin, Saskatchewan, in 1925 and his early years there growing up and teaching in one-room schoolhouses influenced both his personality and his developing sense of art and education. He moved his family to British Columbia after graduating from The University of Saskatchewan and taught art at Chilliwack High School and Vancouver School of Art. After teaching at the Vancouver School of Art (which later became Emily Carr University of Art and Design), he came to the Department of Art Education (ARTE) at the University of British Columbia in 1962, where he taught studio printmaking and art methods for 28 years. The Graphics Print Hut west of the Scarfe building was Bob’s domain and many of his collection of the art education students that took Graphics still grace the walls of the Scarfe building. The Graphics sale was a highlight for students and staff during Bob’s years at UBC. He remained a practising artist his whole life but it was only after retirement that he began the “Drawing Network” to encourage the idea that drawing was a language as important as talking or writing. He has published numerous articles and pamphlets and four books, “Draw Me a Story” (1998), “The Drawing Path for Children” (2011), “The Smith Ranch ‘After School’”(2011) and “A Picture Book of Children’s Drawings” (2013). He contended that in their drawings, children can capture degrees of sophistication in perception, understanding and emotion that are far beyond their literacy level. Although it was in his retirement that Bob really began publishing his ideas, his deep beliefs about drawing and children were articulated through his teaching and further refined by many of the students that he encountered in his years at UBC. A book inspired by Bob’s beliefs about art education was published last year and launched at the Faculty of Education. (M. J. Binder & S. Kind (Eds.), Drawing as Language: Celebrating the Work of Bob Steele. 2017 Sense Publishers.) Bob Steele’s legacy in art education will survive in the many art educators he influenced through his teaching and his writing.