Dean Dass studied art, philosophy and anthropology at the University of Northern Iowa, B.A. 1978. His M.F.A. is from The Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, 1980.
He has taught at the University of Virginia since 1985. For almost thirty years Dass have exhibited his works on paper, paintings, artist's books and sculpture throughout the United States and abroad. Early in his career, in the 1980s, he was invited to participate in three National Print Invitational Exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum of Art (1981, 1983, 1989). His works have also been included in various juried or invitational exhibitions in museums in Poland (1980, 1997), Brazil (1986), England (1990), Finland (1990, 1996, 2003, 2008), the Netherlands (1993), Egypt (2005), as well as in many university and private galleries here and abroad. During the late '80s and early '90s Dass showed with the Dolan/Maxwell Gallery in Philadelphia and New York. Since the early '90s Dass has shown with the Schmidt Dean Gallery in Philadelphia. Since the mid-90s he has developed a special relationship in Scandinavia and have exhibited his work in Sweden and Finland. In Finland especially he has developed an ongoing exhibition and workshop schedule. He has had two solo exhibitions and been a part of several group exhibitions at Galleria Harmonia, a state-run graphic workshop and gallery affiliated with the Jyväskylä Art Museum. He has also lectured and conducted workshops at South Carelia Polytechnic University, Imatra, and at the Fine Arts Academy in Helsinki. He have exhibited three times in the international triennial exhibition Graphica Creativa, Jyväskylä, winning a Juror's Prize in 1996; this prize lead to subsequent exhibition opportunities in Finland, Sweden and Poland. A number of these exhibitions have included his artist's books.
Dass has received an Individual Fellowship from the State of Pennsylvania Arts Council (1985), the State of Virginia Commission for the Arts Printmaking Prize (1988), the State of Virginia Commission for the Arts Individual Fellowship (1994), the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Individual Fellowship (1999), as well as several research grants from the University of Virginia (1989, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012). The University of Virginia has also supported his creative work with Fellowships to study and exhibit abroad for extended periods (Netherlands in 1993, Finland in 1997, 2001, Ireland in 2009). In 2007 Dass received a Sesquicentennial Research Fellowship from the University of Virginia that enabled him to work and travel for one month in Imatra and two months in Paris. In 2003 Dass received the All-University Teaching Award at the University of Virginia. He was the only candidate for this award nominated by students.