SDPB Television
SDPB Documentaries

Light of the Prairie: South Dakota Stained Glass

Rating: TV-G

Explore the history and culture of stained glass windows in South Dakota.

Light of the Prairie: Stained Glass in South Dakota

South Dakota Public Broadcasting Television explores the state's artistic history. The one-hour SDPB Television production travels throughout the state to look at a beautiful and often underappreciated aspect of South Dakota's history. The documentary touches on the history and culture of stained glass windows with expert and Humanities Scholar Dr. Barbara Johnson of Aberdeen.

Many communities across the state have used these stained glass windows to tell their stories - their connection to God, the homestead experience or life on the Great Plains. Windows can be found in private homes, churches, courthouse, schools, and even in barns.

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Teacher's Guide
The guide suggests activities and resources for connecting the video to curriculum goals and standards. It is meant to be flexible to work at multiple grade levels to support the teaching of both visual arts and South Dakota history. The video content links to history, civics (government), and visual arts classes. The guide is not designed as a curriculum in and of itself. It offers teachers flexibility in planning activities to meet their objectives in limited or more extended time periods.

LIGHT OF THE PRAIRIE: STAINED GLASS IN SOUTH DAKOTA is produced with the support of the
South Dakota Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The teacher's guide was developed by Patrick Gallagher, Cottonwood Communications.

The production looks at three broad topics.
The History of Stained Glass on the Great Plains - Stained glass windows originally were developed in the Middle East. Early stained glass artists learned to use metals like gold, cobalt, copper and others to create vibrant colors in glass. Centuries later, settlers who immigrated to the Great Plains brought their stained glass traditions with them. In South Dakota, these colorful windows often tell the same stories as windows found in Europe and the Middle East about religion, art and memories.

The Buildings - Churches are most commonly associated with stained glass. Some windows depict biblical figures or stories and some are merely decorative. But not all stained glass is connected to religious communities. Throughout South Dakota there are buildings where stained glass tells stories of our state, individual communities, prominent families, epic events, or sometimes mystical people and places. The State Capitol building is home to many beautiful windows, but the art form is found across the state in schools, courthouses and homes.

The Present and Future - Many of the stained glass windows found across the state are showing the ravages of time. The restoration of a stained glass window is expensive and time consuming, but those who love and respect these beautiful pieces of history are finding ways to restore them. Creating stained glass remains a living art form, and many of today's artists continue to carry on the storytelling tradition in their contemporary creations. Technology is allowing today's craftsmen to create more contemporary designs with vivid color choices.