Sue Dean’s belief in the possibility of a world of respectful diversity is informed by her background in education and her extensive travels. She has been included in family events at a Native American Pueblo for decades, and solo backpacked in Turkey, Bosnia, Greece, India, Scotland, and England. She also spent four years living in Japan, immersed in design aesthetics, social customs, and encounters with living legends of traditional arts.
Dean's mystical and eclectic totem sculptures reflect Eastern, Western, and tribal influences. She has traveled and lived in different lands throughout the world, motivated since childhood to explore outside the boundaries of cultures. The anthropomorphic Totem Neighbors are formed from various textiles, fragments saved from travels, and found objects. Sue Dean states, “Different sizes and shapes of totems evolve as if from faraway planets, yet they're like people on earth, distinctive in expression and energy.”
From 1974-1984, Dean was the only teacher in a one-room school in the Arizona desert. She joined Mensa for professional enrichment. From 1984-1985, she gave “Breakaway Thinking” seminars to small corporate and government groups in Arizona. These seminars featured her original material for creative-intellectual balance. In 1985, she began solo backpacking for months at a time to unfamiliar lands. Between journeys, Sue wrote, illustrated, designed, and published four small books, entitled “The Traveler Series”: Glowing Power, Shining Wealth, Spirit of Play, and River of Love.
Dean has participated in juried group exhibitions, a Creative Capital Summer Intensive Program, and Poetry Slams in New York. In a juried competition in 2017, her work, Totem Neighbors, was selected by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and Artists Unite to be featured in the New York City’s subway system. In 2019, Dean exhibited her first installation in New York City at the Carter Burden Gallery.