Skip to main content

Mira BalbergDanielle Dean

Assistant Professor

Department of Visual Arts

Danielle Dean received her MFA from California Institute of the Arts and is an alumna of the Whitney Independent Study Program and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

Dean is an interdisciplinary artist whose work explores the geopolitical and material processes that colonize the mind and body. Drawing from the aesthetics and history of advertising, and from her multinational background — born to a Nigerian father and an English mother in Alabama, and brought up in a suburb of London — her work explores the ideological function of technology, architecture, marketing, and media as tools of subjection, oppression, and resistance.

Recent solo exhibitions include “True Red Ruin” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, “Bazar” at 47 Canal in New York, Landed at Cubitt gallery in London and “Focus: Danielle Dean” at the Studio Museum in Harlem (New York).

Her work has also been included in group exhibitions including “Freedom of Movement,” Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam); “Anti,” Athens Biennal (Greece); “The Centre Cannot Hold,” Lafayette Anticipation (Paris), “Artist’s film international,” The Whitechapel Gallery (London); “From Concrete to liquid to spoken worlds to the word,” Centre D’Art Contemporain Geneve, (Geneva); “In Practice: Material Deviance” at Sculpture Center (New York); “Experimental People” at High Line Art (New York); “Lagos Live” at the Goethe Institut Nigeria (Lagos); and “Made in L.A. 2014” at The Hammer Museum (Los Angeles) among many others.

Her work is included in many museum collections including Stedelijk Museum, The Hammer museum and the Kadist Foundation.

Visit danielledean.com for more.


What excites you most about coming to UC San Diego?

I am excited about working with the students not only because of how I can challenge and help them develop their practice, but also how they will challenge me to think and work in new ways. Teaching is an exciting collaborative process.

Why did you choose your field of study?

Because I grew up as an only child, creating things was what I did to entertain myself. Coming from a working-class area of the U.K., it wasn’t expected that a passion for craft and making could turn into a fine art profession. I took a few turns, and even a different profession in advertising before I could confidentially define myself as an artist. What helped me to do this were my teachers and my peers.

What advice do you have for students who choose to major in arts and humanities?

Don’t isolate yourself too much; strike a balance between the time you need in your studio and spending time working with your peers. Your peers will be your biggest audience for your artwork and some will be your friends and supporters for life.

How do you view your role relative to the greater regional community?

San Diego has so much natural beauty it seems idyllic, however, it is at the intersection of some major political issues such as the border, environmental crisis and the military to name a few. As an artist, I hope to see through the ideological view. Over time through research and looking closely, I think San Diego will reveal itself more and more and, in turn, my role within a community.

Tell us something about yourself that is not normally mentioned in your bio.

My grandad was a Nigerian tribal leader and had 12 wives.