Beau Dick

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Beau Dick
Stewart-Beau Dick mask.jpg
Mask by Beau Dick
Born(1955-11-23)November 23, 1955
DiedMarch 27, 2017(2017-03-27) (aged 61)
British Columbia, Canada
Known forwoodcarving
MovementNorthwest Coast art
AwardsVIVA award (2012)

Beau Dick (November 23, 1955 – March 27, 2017)[1] was a Kwakwaka'wakw Northwest Coast artist and Chief from Alert Bay, British Columbia, Canada.[2]

Early life[edit]

Beau Dick was born in Kingcome Inlet, a Kwakwaka'wakw village north of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. His family moved to Vancouver, BC, when he was six years old. From a young age he was heavily influenced by the customary woodcarving of both his grandfather, father, artist Tony Hunt, and later Doug Cranmer.

Art career[edit]

Dick assisted his grandfather and father in carving one of the world's tallest totem poles in Alert Bay. When Dick was 17, he was asked to apprentice under artist Tony Hunt in Victoria, BC. Eventually returning to Vancouver, he continued to hone his carving techniques under the influence of Doug Cranmer.[3]

In 1986, Dick was commissioned to carve a mask to be showcased in Expo 86 in Vancouver. The Canadian Museum of History (formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilization) in Gatineau, Quebec, acquired Dick's mask, and it remains on display there.[4] In 1998, he was one of only seven Canadian artists to be invited to the reopening of Canada House in London, England, in the presence of Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Queen Elizabeth II.[5]

In the last decade, his work has been featured in a number of international exhibitions, helping introduce his pieces to a more contemporary audience. Beau's work was featured alongside that of artist Neil Campbell in the 2004 exhibition Supernatural: Beau Dick and Neil Campbell at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver, followed by the 2005 "Totems to Turquoise" exhibit in both New York and Vancouver. In 2009, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection showcased Dick's work in their exhibit entitled "Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast". Dick participated in the 17th Biennale of Sydney in 2010 and a summer exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa in 2013.


Dick's craftsmanship and artistry have been noted for being strongly influenced by traditional pieces and techniques, but are particularly unique for their incorporation of contemporary and Western influences as well. As noted by artist Roy Arden, many of Dick's designs "reminds [me] of Japanese anime characters and commercial Halloween masks... . An influence from a European painting, or a Japanese Noh mask, are equally likely to inflect on one of his works."[6]


On February 10, 2013, Dick performed a First Nations copper-cutting ceremony on the steps of the BC Legislature in Victoria in conjunction with a variety of activists, including local members of Idle No More. Having embarked on a 10-day, 500 km walk from Alert Bay to Victoria, the gesture was intended to bring attention to the abuse of Native treaties by the federal government, as well as highlight the negative repercussions of commercial fish farms on Vancouver Island.[7][8]

The ceremony was noted as being the first time such a shaming practice had been used by the Kwakwaka'wakw in decades.[7]

The copper is a symbol of justice, truth and balance, and to break one is a threat, a challenge and can be an insult. If you break copper on someone and shame them, there should be an apology.

— Beau Dick[7][9]

Selected exhibitions[edit]

  • Supernatural: Neil Campbell and Beau Dick, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, 2004[10]
  • Totems to Turquoise, New York and Vancouver, 2005[11]
  • Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast, 2009[12]
  • 17th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, 2010[1]
  • National Gallery of Canada, Sakahàn exhibition, 2013[13][14]
  • "The Box of Treasures: Gifts from the Supernatural, The Bill Reid Gallery, Vancouver BC", 2015 [15]
  • Lalakenis/All Directions: A Journey of Truth and Unity, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, 2016[16]
  • "Learning From Athens, documenta 14, Athens GR and Kassel DE", 2017 [17]


Dick received the 2012 VIVA award.[18]


  1. ^ a b "Artists - Beau Dick". 17th Biennale of Sydney. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  2. ^ Campbell, Leslie. "Beau's Story". Focus Online. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  3. ^ "Beau Dick" (PDF). Vancouver Art Gallery. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 17, 2007. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  4. ^ "Beau Dick". Just Art Gallery. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  5. ^ "Artists - Beau Dick". Lattimer Gallery. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  6. ^ Arden, Roy. "Supernatural - Neil Campbell and Beau Dick". Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c "Beau Dick Copper Cutting Ceremony in Victoria to "Shame" Government". Warrior Publications. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  8. ^ Hopper, Tristin. "'Copper cutting' shaming ritual a 'threat' and 'challenge' by B.C. First Nations against provincial government". National Post. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  9. ^ Lavoie, Judith. "First Nations chief to perform rare shaming right on legislature lawn". Times Colonist. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  10. ^ Arden, Roy. "Supernatural". Center for Canadian Contemporary Art Concordia. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  11. ^ "Totems to Turqoise: Native North American Jewelry Arts of the Northwest and Southwest". Culture Kiosque. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  12. ^ Thom, Ian. "Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast". University of Washington Press.
  13. ^ James Adams, "National Gallery’s summer blockbuster to showcase contemporary native artists from around the world", Globe and Mail, February 13, 2013.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Hogue, Tarah (July 14, 2016). "Vancouver Entrances: Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun and Beau Dick". Canadian Art. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  17. ^
  18. ^ Villarreal, Ignacio. "Audain Prize goes to Marion Penner Bancroft, Viva Awards to Beau Dick & Ron Tran". Retrieved March 20, 2017.

External links[edit]