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 Helen Dapprich  (1878 - 1953)

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Lived/Active: Illinois/Indiana      Known for: painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Helen Dapprich was born in Belleville, Illinois, in 1878 and died in 1953 in Nashville, Indiana. (Her birth day and year have differed in accounts; this is taken from county records upon her death.)  Her family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1888.  She enrolled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1900 and stayed for four years before sailing for Europe to study painting in Munich and Paris for two years.  In Paris, she studied with Antonio de La Gandara, where she was influenced by his use of pastel and his portraiture.  Upon her return to Chicago, she was a working artist at the Tree Studio Building.

Helen Dapprich exhibited a portrait in the Society of Western Artists' 1906 show in Chicago, and another in 1907 at the Art Institute of Chicago's 19th Annual Exhibition of Water Colors, Pastels, and Miniatures by American Artists.  She is listed in American Art Annual, Vol. 7, 1909-1910.

Helen moved to Madison, Wisconsin, in 1909 where she lived with her sister and brother-in-law, setting up a studio in their home.  She provided art for The Wisconsin Magazine, University of Wisconsin.

In 1911, Helen married Walter W. Griffiths and moved to Fort Wayne, Ind. As Mrs. W. W. Griffith (the s was omitted), she exhibited bookplates at the Indiana Artists Exhibition, John Herron Art Institute, Indianapolis, in 1913.  She is listed in Art and Artists of Indiana, by Mary Q. Burnet, 1921.

The Griffithses moved to Milwaukee around 1920, where Helen took classes at the Milwaukee Art Students' League in 1921 and 1922.

When Walter lost his engineering during the Great Depression, he and Helen and their 20-year-old son Richard moved to Nashville, Ind., in 1932 and started Brown County Pottery, using locally dug clay that turned a terra-cotta color when fired.  Helen created the designs with nature themes, crafted figurines which were later made in molds and was the creative force behind the pottery for more than 20 years.  The pieces were sold through a handful of large department stores as well as in Nashville.

Richard Griffiths threw pots on the wheel until his death in 1934, when the task was taken over by Claude Graham.  Renowned Indiana potter Karl Martz, who taught ceramics at Indiana University, Bloomington, for 32 years, worked at Brown County Pottery for a year as an apprentice before opening his own studio pottery in Nashville in 1935.

The Griffithses operated the pottery until their deaths, Helen on February 1, 1953, Walter on December 10 the same year.  Examples of many of the pieces produced at Brown County Pottery are on permanent display at the Midwest Museum of American Art, Elkhart, Indiana.

This biographical information is from the book Clay Times Three, The tale of three Nashville, Indiana, Potteries: Brown County Pottery, Martz Potteries, Brown County Hills Pottery, by Kathy M. McKimmie, 2009.   Provided by the author,

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