Dean Meeker was born in Colorado. He attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois on the G.I. Bill after World War II, and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he earned the degrees of Bachelors and Masters of Fine Art.
In 1946, Meeker began his teaching career at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, and during his 46-year tenure in the Department of Art, served under every Dean in the history of the School of Education.
Meeker supported himself as a young man by painting billboards for a sign company, and when he moved to Chicago, he found similar work. It was here, at a Midwest signage shop, that he was exposed to silk-screen printing techniques. Meeker transformed this once commercial process into evolving generations of increasingly complex expression. He found his motivating interest in art reflected in the Paul Klee quote “Art is Process” – that one discovers principles through exploration, rather than allowing known principles to limit the work.
In 1948, Meeker began teaching silk-screen by way of an unofficial and unaccredited course that he offered to his students. The popularity of his classes led to the creation, in 1950, of the first ever university-affiliated course in serigraphy.
Meeker used his Guggenheim Fellowship, granted in 1959, to build on his expertise of the intaglio process. He was one of the first printmakers to overprint silk-screens with polymer intaglio and, and to this end, he collaborated, with engineer John McFee, to invent the Meeker-McFee motorized etching press. The combination of these techniques allowed him to build images so seemingly three-dimensional that, as one critic said, they “almost dance and sing.”
During his career, Meeker exhibited in 90 one-man shows, and was recognized as one of the outstanding printmakers in the United States. Professor Meeker also served as a Juror for prestigious competitions, contributed to numerous publications, and catalogued over 180 prints. His sculpture and prints appear in over 100 collections throughout the world which include, in part: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Milwaukee Art Center; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Victoria and Albert Museum, London.