A celebrated artist and a dedicated teacher, Dempsey began carving in 1969 and was directed to the Gitanmaax School of Northwest Coast Indian Art in 1972 by Freda Diesing, who was his earliest mentor and teacher. His work is in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Civilization; the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology; the Columbia Museum of Ethnology; the Smithsonian Institution; National Museum of Ethnology in Japan; Canada House in London, England; Hamburgisches Museum fur Volkerskkunde in Hamburg, Germany; Centennial Museum in Ketchikan, Alaska, and the Royal British Columbia Museum. Corporate collections include the Vancouver International Airport, the Ridley Coal Terminal in Prince Rupert and the Saxman Tribal House in Saxman, Alaska.
He has pieces in numerous private collections including three significant collections-in New York, San Francisco and Vancouver-focussing primarily on his work. In recent years he has become a major contributor to Pacific Rim relations, participating in gatherings. He travelled to New Zealand in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.
Excerpt from Manawa—Pacific Heartbeat, 2005.
In June 2013, Dempsey Bob was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada. “For his dedication to the preservation of Tahltan-Tlingit artistry as a master carver and mentor to a new generation of artists.”