David Bierk was born in Appleton, Minnesota, in 1944 and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He studied at the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland, California, and subsequently taught art in the Bahamas for several years. He returned to California to study at Humboldt State University in Arcata, where he received an M.F.A. in painting and photography.
Bierk immigrated to Canada in 1972 and took up a teaching position in Peterborough, Ontario. In 1974 he founded Artspace, an artist-run centre, that he directed until 1987. It was then that he decided to devote himself to the full-time pursuit of his career as an artist. A passionate painter and a prolific exhibitor, Bierk successfully established an international reputation for his work.
He had eight children and lived and painted in Peterborough until his death from leukemia in August 2002. In 1998, he was elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, and in 2002 was posthumously awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.