Audain Art Museum – Wolves

The Art of Dempsey Bob

By Katherine Fawcett

The roots of northern B.C. artist Dempsey Bob’s artistic practice can be traced back through time to the stories of his Tahltan-Tlingit ancestors. Oral histories, legends, songs and dances he experienced in his childhood informed Bob since he began carving in the late 1960s. A member of the Wolf Clan, Bob specializes in the juxtaposition of human and animal forms against mythical elements to stunning effect. One of his most influential teachers was acclaimed Haida artist Freda Diesing.

Visitors may have seen Dempsey Bob’s breathtaking wood carvings in the Vancouver International Airport terminal or the 12-foot totem pole at Canada House in London, England. In 2013, Bob was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions to the preservation of Tahltan and Tlingit traditional art and culture. In 2021, he was awarded a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.

In the most in-depth exhibition of his work ever, visitors to the Audain Art Museum (AAM) will experience a comprehensive selection of this contemporary-traditional artist’s work, including stunning carvings, robes, prints, helmets, jewellery and bronzes. Wolves: The Art of Dempsey Bob will run from March 24 to July 10, 2022, at the AAM. This Audain Art Museum and McMichael Canadian Art Collection co-production is organized by Dr. Curtis Collins, Director & Chief Curator of the AAM and Sarah Milroy, Chief Curator of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ont. It is a tribute to an artist who continues to advance Indigenous Northwest Coast aesthetic traditions. | 604-962-0413


 Dempsey Bob, Northern Eagles Transformation Mask, 2011
Yellow cedar and acrylic pigment
40.6 x 58.4 cm. Audain Art Museum Collection.
Gift of Michael Audain and Yoshiko Karasawa
Photo: Trevor Mills


Dempsey Bob, Wolf Chief's Hat, c. 1983
Red cedar, acrylic paint, operculum, horse hair, leather, ermine
38 x 45.7 x 45.7 cm. Collection of Eric Savics
Photo: Rachel Topham Photography


Dempsey Bob, Eagle and the Bear People, 2013
Yellow cedar, acrylic paint
55.9 x 34.3 x 10.1 cm. Private Collection
Photo: Rachel Topham Photography