Jerry Steffen Jr

I was born in 1956 and  suffered sexual abused and child abused by Priests, Nuns and Staff at St. Rita School for the Deaf in Cincinnati Ohio from 1967 to 1972.  Horrible school. Still suffer flash back. My first language is American Sign Language, and I read lips well. I was born to be an artist.

I was a graphic designer at Schottenstein Stores Corp. between 1978-1988 in Columbus, Ohio. I studied at Cleveland Institute of Art in 1990-1991 then transferred to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1992-1993. Having a sign language interpreter was a must. Lithography was my major, but lithography was dying and I was unable to find a lithography studio, sadly.

I moved to Seattle, Washington in 1994 from Hawaii after I traveled in Asia for 4 years alone.  I wandered around in Seattle and joined Pike Place Market downtown – especially in the well known farmers market area. I was self employed in 2000 to 2012. I painted and sold original watercolor paintings and prints. Then I had neck surgery. Over 7 years and still today I have not found part time work. I applied many times in Seattle area and online. But nothing. They know I am deaf, right eye blind, disabled and elder. I am no longer able to paint watercolor because of my neck injured. Then I became upset and didn’t know what to do. Somehow I found a new media that I enjoy making 3 dimensional paper cutting and 3 dimensional painting. It is for my self art therapy and it helps me to stay calm. peaceful. and  joyful.  I enjoy this new media.  “Also, it is so easy to carry art supplies with me whenever I go to a cafe and do my paper cutting. People like to watch me while I work.

I collect scrap cardboard at Starbucks and Fred Meyer — I never buy, why waste? — and unused toilet seat cover tissues for papier-mache from public restrooms. Then I used non-toxic glue and acrylic paints from a garage sale. I love to use vibrant paint, and I like to make large pop art.

I have a favorite piece, but it’s not done yet. It has a lot of detail and has taken me about three months to make. Last year, I designed a 9-foot-tall superhero costume over the span of a year. I used more than 45 large scrap cardboard boxes, over 250 sheets of scrap Japanese rice paper, two gallons of non-toxic glue and lots of paint. It’s called “The American Sign Language Aurora Borealis Man.”

I won first place in the painting, prints and drawing category for “Kids Silly Face” in the Arts for Terrace competition in 2019.  I started it early last fall when school began. There was a Mountlake Terrace school bus ahead of me while I was driving, and some kids at the back of the bus goofing around made me laugh. It took me about a month to finish.  I was surprised I won again. I took first in the painting, prints and drawing category for my work “Protect Salmon All Year Round” in 2018.” (excerpt from This Mountlake Terrace man’s an artist of multiple dimensions in the Herald Net by Evan Thompson, Oct 8, 2019)

It took me a while to figure out how to make 3 dimensional paper cutting art and 3 dimensional painting. Most of my artworks is paper cutting and a few 3 D painting. I enjoy using a lot of detail, with tidy and neat work that pops out. I only make 5″ x 5″, 6″ x 6″, 8″ x 10″ and 10″ x 10″ – also a few 8″ x 28″ and 18″ x 44″. I am so glad that 3 dimensional paper cutting is my new favorite media. I had to quit ceramic, glass blowing, metal and sculpture for good.

Click images for titles and specs of artworks.

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