An artist of Dene and Carrier ancestry, Crystal Behn specializes in traditional and modern beadwork that is both customizable and unique. Born and raised in Treaty 8 territory, Crystal learned the art of beading, moccasin making and traditional harvesting from her grandmother. Crystal uses as many different natural materials as possible including hand smoked moose hide, moose antler, porcupine quills, glass stones, caribou hair, fish scales, birchbark and beads.
Working with these materials gives Crystal an important connection to the land and reflects her commitment to honouring the process that goes into creating the hide from hunt to finished art piece. From beaded poppies, cuffs, mukluks to shawls, her creations reflect her vision and embrace the knowledge passed down from her mother, auntie and grandmother.
Crystal’s home-based business In Her Footsteps Authentic Dene Designs was built one bead at a time and, as an artist for Manitobah Mukluks, her pieces continue to sell out. A pair of Crystal’s beaded mukluks were part of an exhibit entitled Reconciliation at Two Rivers Gallery in 2019. Crystal has received accolades for her work including a scholarship to Island Mountain Arts, people’s choice award and chosen award at the Peace Liard Juried Art Exhibit.
Crystal was selected by the independent jury as the 2021 Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist.
The Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist designation was established in 2019. Named in honour of Brenda Crabtree, Director, Aboriginal Programs, Emily Carr University and the late Bill McLennan (1948-2020), Curator Emeritus, UBC Museum of Anthropology, this recognition aims to highlight and support emerging talent.