Barbara Leventhal-Stern was born in Springfield, Ohio in 1948. Her formal art education began in St. Louis, Missouri at Washington University School of Fine Art. It was in their gallery that she first saw the paintings of Max Beckman, who had taught there after leaving Germany. In the Art School Library she found a collection of books on German Expressionism, and she immediately fell in love with their wood cut prints.
After two years, Barbara left St. Louis and enrolled in The Boston Museum