(1955 - 2017, Kwakwaka’wakw)Born to a family of accomplished artists, Beau Dick was raised in the Kwakwaka’wakw community of Alert Bay located at the northern tip of Vancouver Island. A centre of traditional knowledge and culture, many of the Northwest Coasts most established and celebrated artists hail from the region. Beau’s father, Ben Dick, and his grandfather, James Dick, were part of a core group of artists who maintained traditional Kwakwaka’wakw art and culture through a turbulent cultural transition in the early twentieth century. It was this dedication that allowed the region to preserve its most important cultural artifacts and knowledge, which continues to inspire contemporary artists today.
Beau first began woodcarving as a teenager, often producing miniatures of his father’s and his grandfather’s work and assisting them on large-scale projects such as totem poles. Beau found this experience enlightening, allowing him to explore not only his cultural roots but also his family history. He later moved to Vancouver to complete his education, where he became interested in painting. During this period, Beau experimented with a naturalistic style that took Southern Kwakwaka’wakw mythological figures and ceremonial dancers as his subjects. In the years since, Beau has produced many stunning and elaborate works of art for both personal purposes and public consumption. He has placed artworks in several museum collections and significant private collections around the world, and in 1998, he was one of seven artists selected to attend the re-opening of Canada House in London, England. Beau’s work retains its strong influence from traditional pieces and techniques, but he is also known for his incorporation of Western and cross-cultural influences.