Dean Heron was born in 1970. He is Kaska/Tlingit and a member of the Wolf Clan from Teslin, Yukon, Canada. His father was a teacher and superintendent of public schools which allowed Dean to see many parts of the country while growing up. It was living in northern British Columbia that had an impact on his sense of environment, community, and self-identity. His parents encouraged him to learn about his heritage from a young age.
In the early 1990’s Dean started to pursue a lifelong commitment to learning First Nations art with the encouragement and support of his wife. He began designing and painting at first, but wanted to learn to carve. In 2006, this took him back to the north – to Terrace, BC, where he began formal training in drawing, design, tool-making and carving under prominent Northwest Coast artists Stan Bevan, Ken McNeil, and Dempsey Bob at the Freda Deising School of Northwest Coast Art. In the spring of 2007 Dean was recognized by the Northwest Community College with the Dr. Freda Diesing Award.
Dean’s current body of work includes serigraphs, paintings, regalia design and wood carvings. In the summer of 2007, Dean and fellow student Henry Kelly were asked by teachers Bevan and McNeil to paint five longhouse fronts for the community of Kitselas, BC. Most recently he created a piece for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics Aboriginal Venue Art Program. The work, entitled Northern Spirit, is now on permanent display at Cypress Mountain.
Encouraged to teach, Dean began instructing at Northwest Community College in spring of 2007, through the College’s Continuing Education Department. Here he taught local youth the fundamentals of Northwest Coast design. He has gone on to demonstrate and teach at workshops in the community and abroad.
Dean traveled with his teacher and mentor, Stan Bevan, to Australia and New Zealand to open the People of the Cedar exhibit in Melbourne, Australia and to visit carving schools in New Zealand with the intention of learning from their curricula and to speak to and learn from other indigenous artists.
Dean has been represented in a number of exhibits and his work can be found in private collections around the world including: the High Commission of Canada in Australia, Canberra Australia; University of British Columbia Aboriginal Fisheries Centre, Vancouver British, Columbia, Canada; Norwegian Royal Family, Oslo, Norway; and throughout public collections and galleries in Canada, the United States, Germany, Hong Kong, and China.
“Our art defines who we are and where we are from. I create for the ones who left behind work for us to study from, for those who kept the art alive, and to the ones that will come after us.”
– Dean Heron