|Raised by an aunt after the death of her parents, Dehner spent an unhappy year studying theater at UCLA and then took a year long trip through Europe. There she was introduced to the newest developments in painting, music, and dance. In 1926 she settled in New York, studied painting, and met David Smith when he moved into her boardinghouse. While Smith concentrated on his art, Dehner was left to run the farm. During the time she was married she produced a only few small works because of Smith's anxiety about her potential competition. After twenty three years of marriage they divorced. Dehner began
to make and exhibit sculptures in bronze, carved wood, and Cor-ten steel. In her later years her work became simpler, employing fewer shapes but retaining its emphasis on tactile surfaces and shaped voids. Many of her later sculptures call to mind the urban environment of Manhattan, where she spent the latter part of her life.