Archives of American Art

A Finding Aid to the Harold Helwig and Lenore Davis Papers, 1940-2013, in the Archives of American Art.

Collection ID:
Davis, Lenore , 1936-1995
Helwig, Harold B., 1938-2012
Physical Description:
14.5 Linear feet
7.85 Gigabytes
The papers of artists and art educators Harold Helwig and Lenore Davis measue 14.5 linear feet and 7.85 GB and date from 1940 to 2013. The papers document Davis' career and personal life more heavily than Helwig's, however, material related to both individuals are present. Included is biographical information; correspondence; exhibition and business files; research and printed material; artwork and sketches; photographs; and papers and digital material related to both Helwig and Davis' teaching endeavors.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of artists and art educators Harold Helwig and Lenore Davis measue 14.5 linear feet and 7.85 GB and contains correspondence, video recordings, some in digital format, photographs and slides, exhibition ephemera, clippings and various other printed material, and artwork.
Biographical material includes resumes, school papers, artist inventories, and contacts lists. The collection's correspondence is both personal and business related, and includes a series of letters from Davis' mother, Mary Shope Davis, to her brother and sister-in-law from the 1940s. Other material found in this collection documents Helwig's and Davis' involvement in exhibitions; national and local craft-related guilds and associations, education; sale of artwork and services; research material; and printed ephemera. The collection's photographs include the personal and professional side of Helwig and Davis' life.

The collection is arranged as 11 series.
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, 1952-2012 (.08 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1940-2009 (2.5 linear feet; Box 1-4)
  • Series 3: Writings, 1970-1994 (7 folders; Box 4)
  • Series 4: Exhibitions, 1969-2007 (10 folders; Box 4, 3.73 GB; ER01-ER02)
  • Series 5: Professional Files, 1971-2012 (1.0 linear feet; Box 4-5)
  • Series 6: Research Material, 1953-2012 (9 folders; box 5-6)
  • Series 7: Teaching Files, 1973-2012 (2.8 linear feet; Box 6-9, 4.12 GB; ER03)
  • Series 8: Personal Business Files, 1977-2003 (.5 linear feet; Box 9-10)
  • Series 9: Printed Material, 1955-2013 (1.0 linear feet; Box 10-11)
  • Series 10: Artwork, circa 1958-1995 (2.0 linear feet; Box 11-13, shoebox 15)
  • Series 11: Photographs, 1940-2000 (1.5 linear feet; Box 13-14)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Harold "Bill" Helwig (1938-2012) was an enamel artist and educator born in Wellington, Kansas in 1938. Helwig received his MS in watercolor from Fort Hayes Kansas State College in 1961. After a short stint in the military, Helwig became the assistant director of the Creative Craft Center at the State University of New York, Buffalo (he served as an assistant professor in the design department there as well). In 1977, Helwig took the position of director at Vitrearc, a division of Ceramic Coating Co., in Newport, Kentucky. After Vitrearc, Helwig's primary focus shifted towards creating enamel art and teaching its process. Included in Helwig's artistic accomplishments was a selection in the international exhibition "Objects: USA" (1969), exhibitions in the Ornamental Metals Museum in Memphis, Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York City, and the CCA Galleries in Cambridge, England. Helwig was an active member of the American Craft Council as co-founder and editor of Glass On Metal. He received the Enamellist Society's Creative Arts Award in 2001.
Lenore Davis (1936-1995) was a fiber artist and educator born in Missoula Montana in 1936. She received her BS from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1958. After college, Davis taught high school art, and held a position as a craft director with the US Army Special Services in Germany. After these jobs, Davis received her MFA in ceramics from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, in 1965, and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study ceramics in Portugal in 1966. After her scholarship, Davis began her career as a full-time artist showcasing her work individually and as part of group exhibitions at craft shows, galleries, and museums across the United States. She also led workshops, made instructional videos, and worked for commissions. Davis was a member of the Surface Design Association, National Institute of American Doll Artists, American Craft Council, Kentucky Guild of Craftsmen, and Greater Cincinnati Guild of Craftsmen.
Harold Helwig and Lenore Davis married in 1968. As a couple they worked collaboratively on two-person shows as well as part of larger group exhibitions. In addition to conducting various workshops and lectures, both Davis and Helwig taught classes at Penland School of Craft between the late-1970s and mid-1990s.

Christopher DeMairo
The processing of this collection received Federal support from the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund, administered by the National Collections Program and the Smithsonian Collections Advisory Committee.
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid was written by Christopher DeMairo in 2019.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This collection was donated in 2017 by Arnelle Dow, executor of Harold Helwig's estate.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment, and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Preferred Citation
Harold Helwig and Lenore Davis papers, 1940-2013. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Educators Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Enamel and enameling Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Textile design Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketchbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Video recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001