Beau Dick (‘Walas Gwa’yam’ ‘Big Whale’) is one of the most exciting and creative Northwest Coast contemporary artists of his generation. Having established a career that has spanned decades, his work stands out for its power and emotion. In addition, his creativity and curiosity has allowed him to reach out beyond his own Kwakwaka‘wakw culture to experiment in styles of other tribal traditions. He is recognized as one of the most knowledgeable artists among the Kwakwaka’wakw, and actively perpetuates the ceremonial traditions of his people. He is a Chief and has upheld his name by giving Potlatches and working as both a teacher and mentor.
Dick was born in Alert Bay and raised, speaking only his native language Kwakwala, in the neighbouring village of Kingcome Inlet until he was 6. He began carving at a very early age, studying under his father, Benjamin Dick and his grandfather James Dick, and later under renowned artists Henry Hunt and Doug Cranmer.
Dick has exhibited in many group exhibitions and has been the subject of several solo exhibitions. His work can be found in museum collections around the world, as well as in private collections. He created a transformation mask for Expo ’86 in Vancouver, which now hangs in the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec. Dick also has many pieces on display in the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. His work was recently featured in The National Gallery of Canada’s summer 2013 exhibition “Sakahan: International Indigenous Art”.