(November 23, 1955 – March 27, 2017, Kwakwaka’wakw)
Hereditary Chief Beau Dick (Walas Gwa’yam), acclaimed as one of the Northwest Coast’s most versatile and talented carvers, was born in Kingcome Inlet, BC, a Kwakiutl village north of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. He was a contemporary artist, activist and hereditary Chief from the Namgis First Nation. At a young age, he moved to Albert Bay, British Columbia, where he began carving and became heavily influenced by the customary woodcarving of both his grandfather and father. Beau Dick studied under his father Benjamin Dick, his grandfather James Dick, and later renowned artists such as Henry Hunt and Doug Cranmer.
Beau Dick draws on a deep knowledge of ceremonial Kwakwaka’wakw culture, giving us face-time with the mythological with a pantheon of masks. At the same time, Dick mediates the space between aesthetics, social utility, and the art for sale condition. For more than three decades, he actively perpetuated the ceremonial traditions of his people. Beau also worked alongside master carvers Robert Davidson, Tony Hunt, and the late Bill Reid.
Dick’s work has been featured in a number of international exhibitions, helping introduce his pieces to a more contemporary audience. Beau’s art has gained steady recognition and acclaim in both Canada and the international art scene over the years, with a carving commissioned for Vancouver’s Expo ’86 proving to be a large stepping-stone in his career. In 1998, Beau was one of only seven Canadian artists to attend the reopening of Canada House in London, England. 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. 2010 saw four of Beau’s major works brought to Sydney, Australia to be displayed in one of the largest and most prestigious exhibitions in the world, the Sydney Biennale. Dick’s work has been exhibited most recently at Documenta 14, Athens (2017). From 2013 to his passing in 2017, Dick was Artist-in-Residence at the UBC Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory, with his studio in the Audain Art Centre.
He is greatly missed by all as a teacher, a legendary artist and storyteller, family man, and friend.
Yupik Winter Ceremony Mask, 2014
Chief beau dick
19 x 24 "
Pookmis Mask, 2005
Cedar, Acrylic paint, horsehair, feathers, cotton
cheif beau dick
24 x 14 x 7 "
cheif beau dick
Cedar, horse hair, paint
24” high by 16” wide (mask size)
40” high by 20” wide (with hair)