Bernard Joseph Steffen was born in Neodesha, Kansas in 1907. He attended the Kansas City Art Institute and the Art Students League in New York with Thomas Hart Benton. He also studied at the Los Angeles Art Students League and the Colorado Springs Art Academy.
Steffen was a Works Progress Administration muralist from 1934 to 1941 and his work received medals in the Kansas City Art Institute Mid-Western Exhibition. He was a field art instructor for the Department of Agricultural Resettlement Administration and completed works for the United States Post Office.
Steffen was greatly influenced by Thomas Hart Benton and this highly evident in the lithograph “Dusty Plowing”, which Steffen created for the New York City WPA.