Mark Dion was born in 1961 in New Bedford, MA. He initially studied from 1981-82 at the Hartford Art School of the University of Hartford in Connecticut, which awarded him a B.F.A. in 1986 and an honorary doctorate in 2002. From 1983-84, he attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and then the prestigious Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program from 1984-85. He is an Honorary Fellow of Falmouth University in the U.K. (2014), and he has an honorary doctor of humane letters (Ph.D.) from the Wagner Free Institute of Science in Philadelphia (2015).
Dion has received numerous awards, including the ninth annual Larry Aldrich Foundation Award (2001), the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award (2007), and the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Lucida Art Award (2008). He has had major exhibitions at the Miami Art Museum (2006); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2004); Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT (2003); Tate Gallery, London (1999), and the British Museum of Natural History in London (2007). “Neukom Vivarium” (2006), a permanent outdoor installation and learning lab for the Olympic Sculpture Park, was commissioned by the Seattle Art Museum. Dion produced a major permanent commission, “OCEANOMANIA: Souvenirs of Mysterious Seas,” for the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco. In 2016, Dion and his curatorial collaborator Sarina Basta produced the large-scale exhibition ExtraNaturel: Voyage initiatique dans la collection des Beaux-Arts de Paris at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
Dion is co-director of Mildred’s Lane, an innovative visual art education and residency program in Beach Lake, PA.
For over two decades, Dion has worked in the public realm, from architecture projects to print interventions in newspapers. His large-scale public projects include “The Amateur Ornithologist Clubhouse,” a Captain Nemo-like interior constructed in a vast gas tank in Essen, Germany, and “Den,” a large-scale folly in Norway’s mountainous landscape that features a massive sculpture of a sleeping bear in a cave, resting on a hill of material culture from the Neolithic to the present. Dion has also produced large-scale permanent commissions for Documenta 13 in Kassel, Germany; the Montevideo Biannale in Uruguay; the Rose Art Museum; Johns Hopkins University; and the Port of Los Angeles.
Notable solo exhibitions include Mark Dion: Follies at Storm King Sculpture Park (2019); Theatre of the Natural World at the Whitechapel Gallery, London (2018); Misadventures of a 21st Century Naturalist at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston (2017); Mark Dion: The Academy of Things at the Academy of Fine Arts Design in Dresden, Germany (2014); The Macabre Treasury at Museum Het Domein in Sittard, The Netherlands (2013); Oceanomania: Souvenirs of Mysterious Seas at Musée Océanographique de Monaco and Nouveau Musée National de Monaco/Villa Paloma in Monaco (2011); The Marvelous Museum: A Mark Dion Project at Oakland Museum of California (2010-11); Systema Metropolis at Natural History Museum, London (2007); The South Florida Wildlife Rescue Unit at Miami Art Museum (2006); Rescue Archaeology, a project for the Museum of Modern Art (2004); and his renowned Tate Thames Dig at the Tate Gallery in London (1999).
Dion lives with his wife and frequent collaborator, Dana Sherwood, in Copake, NY, and works worldwide.