Steve Jensen has been a working artist for over 30 years. He comes from a long tradition of Norwegian fisherman and boat builders, growing up on his father’s fishing boat. His current body of work, “Böts”, explores the universal image of the boat.
Jensen plays an influential role in the Pacific Northwest, making his mark on the landscape with monumental public artworks, as well as emotionally charged paintings and sculptures imbued with personal narrative. He works in many mediums, oil on recycled wood, carved naturally fallen cedar, large sculptures in bronze, aluminum, and stainless steel, and small cast sculptures in resin with recycled materials.
Jensen's current body of work revolves around “The Voyage”. In the wake of losing several family members and close friends in a compacted period of time, he sought a way to process his grief. For Jensen, the boat embodies the concept of passage from place to place, from life to death. Carved calligraphic motifs reflect his close relationship to the water and the refashioning of found elements mirror the aesthetic traditions of his Norwegian forbearers. The boat has become a hallmark of Jensen's artistry and a symbol of his personal voyage and path to healing.
Exhibited widely throughout the United States, Jensen has been awarded numerous awards and grants, including the Morris Graves Fellowship and the PONCHO Artist of the Year Award. He has also been selected for more than 30 public art pieces in the U.S., Japan and China.
My best friend Sylvan did a drawing of a boat. When he gave it to me, he asked if, when he passed, I would make a carved boat for his ashes. He died a month later and I carved a boat as close to Sylvan's. drawings as possible. My mother came to Sylvan's funeral, and she was so moved by the boat, she wanted my father's remains, when he passed, put in a similar vessel. Since he was a Norwegian fisherman, we buried the boat at sea, like a Viking funeral.
Since that time I have created several funeral boats for friends, family, and pets. Art school never prepared me to work with human or animal ashes, but I feel honored to have this opportunity. When I work with them, I feel transformed to another place or time where an artist was asked to be both craftsman and mortician.
The Voyager series, carved in wood or painted, is a direct result of these experiences. As humans, death is the one thing we have in common, and the boat in many cultures symbolizes a passage, or voyage, perhaps to the other side.
Museum of Northwest Art
La Conner, WA
Morris Graves Museum of Art
Port Angeles Fine Arts Center
Port Angles, WA
Larson Art Museum
Solo Museum or
Art Center Exhibitions
Gallery One Art Center, Ellensburg, WA
Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, WA
Everett Art Museum at City Hall, Everett, WA
San Juan Islands Museum of Art, Friday Harbor, WA
Nordic Heritage Museum, Seattle WA
2001, 1998, 1987
Museum of Northwest Art (3 person show), La Conner, WA
Morris Graves Museum of Art, Eureka, CA
Anacortes Art Museum, Anacortes, WA
Bellevue Arts Museum & Commission, Bellevue, WA
Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, Port Angeles, WA
Edmonds Arts Museum, Edmonds, WA
Coos Art Museum, Coos Bay, OR
Maryhill Museum of Art, Goldendale, WA
Larson Art Museum, Yakima, WA