Melody and Russ Stein

Melody and Russ Stein are Deaf entrepreneurs, activists and co-founders of Mozzeria, a pizzeria owned and operated by Deaf people. 

Nominator: “The Steins were turned down for business loans by a line of banks that didn’t want to take a risk on a pair of unproven deaf business owners. They also had to cope with additional frustrations, such as City inspectors arriving without the sign-language interpreters Melody had requested. … all of the 15 employees are deaf and know ASL. From 2016, their mobile pizza truck has become a regular fixture at outdoor festivals and street food events.” 

Two people drawn with bold colors and simple shapes have the word Mozzeria written across their aprons. The background of irregular squares of vibrant colors resembles a patchwork quilt.
Melody and Russ Stein by Laron Bickerstaff, oil pastel, 16 x 20 inches, 2019

IMAGE: Two people drawn with bold colors and simple shapes have the word Mozzeria written across their aprons. The background of irregular squares of vibrant colors resembles a patchwork quilt.

Laron Bickerstaff from Creativity Explored creates radiant portraiture and stream-of-consciousness text-based artwork. He uses American Sign Language and is deeply aware of the visual characteristics of language. He mixes his own observations of life with pop-influenced brand names of celebrities, stores, food and drink, and institutions.