Guide to the Robert C. Koepnick papers, 1879-1995 (bulk 1930s-1980s)

Overview of Collection

Repository: University of Dayton. University Archives and Special Collections
Creator: Koepnick, Robert C., 1907-1995
Title: Robert C. Koepnick papers
Dates: 1879-1995
Bulk Dates: 1930s-1980s
Extent: 5 linear ft. (9 boxes)
Abstract: Papers of Robert C. Koepnick (1907-1995), Dayton sculptor and long-time art instructor at the Dayton Art Institute. Koepnick is well known for his modern perspective on ecclesiastical art, and many of his works appear as architectural elements on churches and professional buildings throughout southwestern Ohio as well as around the United States. This collection includes photographs and sketches of many of his pieces, as well as correspondence related to commissioned work, scrapbooks of related articles, and memorabilia from European travel.
Collection Code: UASC-021
Language: English

Biography of Robert C. Koepnick (1907-1995)

Robert C. Koepnick was born in Dayton, Ohio on July 8, 1907. As a young man he worked for several years as an architectural modeler for firms such as the George E. Heidenreich Company and A. K. Musselman and Sons; he was also a designer and modeler at the Springfield Metallic Casket Company.

Koepnick studied sculpture at the School of the Dayton Art Institute (DAI) and under renowned Swedish sculptor Carl Milles at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. He then taught sculpture at DAI from 1934-1974, except during World War II, when he used his sculpting abilities to design personal equipment for the Army Air Corps at Wright Field in Dayton. He was the well-respected head of the Sculpture and Ceramic Department at DAI from 1936-1941 and 1946-1974.

From 1933-1938, Koepnick worked under DAI director Siegfried R. Weng to produce terra cotta pioneer figures for Dayton schools as part of the Works Progress Administration's (WPA) Federal Art Project (FAP). In 1938, Weng, Koepnick, and the DAI staff organized the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors. That year Koepnick also traveled to Europe in order to visit the studio of Yugoslavian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic and study significant art and architecture. He traveled with the Robert Metcalf family as they photographed stained glass windows throughout Europe.

Koepnick is well known for his ecclesiastical pieces, including architectural reliefs and free-standing statues. His work can be seen throughout southwest Ohio at sites such as Woodland Cemetery, Bethany Lutheran Village, Dayton's St. Anthony, St. Rita, and St. Stephen churches, and Cincinnati's St. Peter in Chains Cathedral and St. Gregory Seminary.

Koepnick frequently worked with prominent architects from firms such as Edward J. Schulte, Associated Architects, and Welty and Kielawa to provide sculptural elements for buildings they designed, including Blessed Sacrament Church in Sioux City, Iowa; Corpus Christi Church in Cincinnati, Ohio; and Concord Methodist Church in Englewood, Ohio. Koepnick's work is also displayed at several Dayton-area schools and at the entrances to the Montgomery County Fairgrounds and the Dayton Metro Library's downtown branch.

For both his sculptures and architectural pieces, Koepnick worked with a variety of media, including terra cotta, ceramics, bronze, aluminum, and marble. He frequently participated in art shows and sculptural competitions, winning awards for his works "Christ, Light of the World," "Woman," and "My Mother."

Koepnick married Betty Borland in Wheeling, West Virginia in 1941, and they later had two sons, Richard and John. An accomplished artist herself, Betty provided professional and personal support throughout their 54 years of marriage. She also worked as a finished artist at Elder-Beerman. Richard worked as a petroleum geologist for many years and is now retired and lives in Athens, Georgia. John lives with his wife Patricia in Ridgeville, Ohio and works in his father's barn studio creating his own abstract sculptures. He also owns and operates a painting contracting company.

In 1974 Koepnick was awarded the title "Emeritus" at Dayton Art Institute, and in 1995 he received the honorary degree Doctor of Humanities at the University of Dayton. When he passed away on July 20, 1995, family, friends, colleagues, and students all praised him for his "gentle" spirit, exceptional teaching abilities, and extraordinary artistic talents.

Scope and Content

The Robert C. Koepnick papers comprise nine boxes of files and photographs related to Koepnick's career as a sculptor and art instructor. Materials include correspondence, freelance ledgers, commission files, personal and professional photographs, scrapbooks, memorabilia, and interviews on VHS tapes. The collection spans 1879-1995, with the bulk of the materials falling between the 1930s and 1980s.

Statement of Arrangement

The Robert C. Koepnick papers are arranged into three series.

Search Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Dayton Libraries Catalog. Researchers may use these headings to search the catalog for resources on related topics, persons, or places.

Personal Names

Arduser, Robert C.
Koepnick, Robert C., 1907-1995
Milles, Carl, 1875-1955
Schulte, Edward J., 1890-1975
 

Corporate Names

Associated Architects
Dayton Art Institute
Liturgical Arts Society
Montgomery County Fairgrounds
Welty and Kielawa
 

Subjects

Architecture
Art, Modern--20th century
Europe--Description and travel
Europe--Maps
Religious Architecture--20th century
Sculpture
Sculpture--Ohio--20th century

Geographic Names

Cincinnati (Ohio)
Dayton (Ohio)
Europe

Administrative Information

Access to Materials

This collection is open and available to the public for research in the University Archives and Special Collections reading room. The materials are non-circulating.

Copyright

The materials in this collection may be protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Literary rights and copyrights possessed by the donors were transferred to the University of Dayton. The materials are available for personal, educational, and scholarly use. For permission to reproduce or publish any materials, please contact the University Archives and Special Collections.

Acquisition Information

The Robert C. Koepnick papers were donated to the University of Dayton Archives and Special Collections in June 2011 by John and Patricia Koepnick (accession 11-40). The Koepnicks donated additional materials in September 2011 (accession 11-52) and on February 23, 2012 (accession 12-13).

Other Finding Aid

A detailed index of names, institutions, and works appearing in this collection is located in the University Archives and Special Collections.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Margaret Zakri in November 2011.

Preferred Citation

[Item title.] Robert C. Koepnick papers, 1879-1995. University Archives and Special Collections, University of Dayton Libraries, Dayton, Ohio.

Box and Folder Listing

Series 1: Personal and professional papers, 1879-1995
Papers are arranged alphabetically within chronological subseries, based on Koepnick's personal filing system. This series includes five boxes of professional correspondence, commission files, freelance ledgers, supply invoices, notices of awards and art shows, and personal papers. There are also many sketches for proposals and completed work. The series provides a look into the entire art commission process, as the detailed files related to Koepnick's work at St. Gregory Seminary, St. Michael Church, and the Montgomery County Fairgrounds include sketches, photographs, invoices, and correspondence that illustrate the work throughout the whole project.
Series 1 is arranged into nine subseries:
Subseries 1: Professional papers, 1879-1956
Subseries 2: Professional papers, 1957-1960
Subseries 3: Professional papers, 1960-1961
Subseries 4: Professional papers, 1961-1964
Subseries 5: Professional papers, 1964-1969
Subseries 6: Professional papers, 1983-1984
Subseries 7: Professional papers, 1984-1985
Subseries 8: Professional papers, 1985-1986
Subseries 9: Personal papers, 1907-1995
Subseries 1: Professional papers, 1879-1956
Box Folder
Biographical and exhibit information, 1945-1956, undated 1 1
"A" file, 1930-1936 1 2
"B and C" file, 1931-1956 1 3
"D" file, 1931-1956 1 4
"E and F" file, 1948-1956 1 5
"G" file, 1948-1956 1 6
"H, I, and J" file, 1951-1956 1 7
"K and L" file, 1940-1956 1 8
"M" file, 1938-1956 1 9
"N and O" file, 1941-1956 1 10
"P and Q" file, 1940-1956 1 11
"R" file, 1947-1956 1 12
"S" file, 1945-1956 1 13
"T, U, and V" file, 1951-1956 1 14
"W" file, 1951-1956 1 15
Subseries 2: Professional papers, 1957-1960
Box Folder
"A, B, and C" file, 1959-1960 1 16
"E and F" file, 1959-1960 1 17
Freelance accounting ledger, 1957-1959 1 18
"G" file, 1959-1960 1 19
"H, I, and J" file, 1959-1960 1 20
Invoices and receipts, 1959-1960 1 21
"K and L" file, 1959-1960 1 22
"M" file, 1959-1960 1 23
Montgomery County Fairgrounds file, 1959 2 1
"N and O" file, 1959-1960 2 2
Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Plant, 1960 2 3
"R" file, 1959-1960 2 4
Sorrowful Mother Shrine file, 1959 2 5
St. Joseph Cathedral file, 1960 2 6
St. Pius X Seminary file, 1958-1959 2 7
St. Pius X Seminary file, 1960 2 8
"T, U, and V" file, 1959-1960 2 9
Subseries 3: Professional papers, 1960-1961
Box Folder
"A" file, 1960-1961 2 10
"B" file, 1960-1961 2 11
"C" file, 1960-1961 2 12
"D" file, 1960-1961 2 13
"E and F" file, 1960-1961 2 14
"H, I, and J" file, 1960-1961 2 15
Household Expenses, 1960-1961 2 16
"K and L" file, 1960-1961 2 17
"M" file, 1960-1961 2 18
"O, P, and R" file, 1960-1961 2 19
St. Gregory Seminary file, 1960-1961 2 20
"T, U, and V" file, 1960-1961 2 21
"W, X, Y, and Z" file, 1960-1961 2 22
Subseries 4: Professional papers, 1961-1964
Box Folder
Beardshear, Trinity, and Vandalia Evangelical United Brethren (E.U.B.) Churches file, 1963-1964 2 23
"C" file, 1962-1964 2 24
Ceramic glazes (Clyde Burt), 1962 3 1
Grace Episcopal Church file, 1961-1962 3 2
"H" file, 1961-1962 3 3
Income tax records [Restricted], 1961-1964 3 4
Invoices and receipts, 1961-1962 3 5
"K and L" file, 1960-1962 3 6
Notre Dame Academy file, 1963 3 7
"P" file, 1962 3 8
Saints Faith, Hope, and Charity Church file, 1960-1962 3 9
St. Anne Church file, 1962-1963 3 10
St. Anne Hospice file, 1961-1962 3 11
St. Anthony Church file, 1963 3 12
St. Joseph Church file, 1962 3 13
Subseries 5: Professional papers, 1964-1969
Box Folder
Accounting ledgers, 1965 3 14
Christ the King file, 1966-1967 3 15
Income tax records [Restricted], 1965 3 16
Invoices and receipts, 1966-1967 3 17
Mt. Olive United Church of Christ file, 1966 4 1
Record of business, 1965-1969 4 2
St. Joseph's College file, 1964-1965 4 3
St. Michael Catholic Church File, 1965-1966 4 4
St. Rita Church file, 1966-1967 4 5
Subseries 6: Professional papers, 1983-1984
Box Folder
Freelance book, 1984 4 6
Invoices and receipts, 1983-1984 4 7
Mercy Hospital file, 1984 4 8
Sisters of Charity of Nazareth file, 1984 4 9
Subseries 7: Professional papers, 1984-1985
Box Folder
Arts file, 1985 4 10
Barthelemy genealogy, 1985 4 11
Bethany Lutheran Home file, 1985 4 12
Commission invoices and proposal, 1981-1985 4 13
Dayton Art Institute gift, 1985 4 14
Household expenses, 1985 4 15
Invoices and receipts for supplies, 1984-1985 4 16
Sculpture and art expenses ledger, 1985 4 17
Texas/Arkansas trip receipts, 1985 4 18
Subseries 8: Professional papers, 1985-1986
Box Folder
Aluminum Association file, 1986 4 19
Business expenses, 1986 4 20
Freelance book, 1986 4 21
Household expenses, 1986 4 22
Invoices and receipts, 1986 4 23
St. Peter in Chains Cathedral file, 1986 4 24
Subseries 9: Personal papers, 1907-1995
Box Folder
Army Air Force certificates (oversized), 1945 9 4
Articles and sketches, 1988-1990 5 1
"Dad" (Louis J. Koepnick), 1879-1956 (bulk 1956) 5 2
Ellasson Smith plan for studio house, 1941 5 3
European maps, 1938 5 4
European trip, 1938 5 5
Lower Springboro Road property file, 1960-1962 5 6
Military publications, 1942-1945 5 7
Military reports, 1943 5 8
Military service records, 1942-1945 5 9
Non-Koepnick work, undated 5 10
Personal documents, 1907-1941 5 11
Photographs of military work, 1942-1945 5 12
Pontiac Street property file, 1957-1965 5 13
Postcards with notes, 1936-1939 5 14
Postcards without notes, undated 6 1
Student work, undated 6 2
Tributes, 1995 6 3
University of Dayton honorary degree, 1995 6 4
Series 2: Photographs and scrapbooks, 1912-1995
This series includes two boxes of indexed personal and professional photographs of Koepnick and his work, as well as images of his European travels. It also includes two files of photocopied and indexed scrapbooks filled with articles that mention Koepnick and his work.
Box Folder
Photographs A:001-281a, 1912-1994, undated 7 1
Photographs B:201; C:100-141, 1930-1939, undated 7 2
Photographs D:100-168, 1930-1959, undated 7 3
Photographs E:001-005; F:001-019, 1966-1981 8 1
Photographs G:001-N:011, 1955-1957, undated 8 2
Photographs O:001-Q:044, 1930-1990, undated 8 3
Photographs AB:001-CD:031; AA:01-29, 1930-1988, undated 8 4
Scrapbook 1, 1929-1951 9 1
Scrapbook 2, 1940-1959 9 2
Photograph index, undated 9 3
Series 3: Videos and realia, 1990, undated
This series includes two VHS tapes featuring interviews with Koepnick as well as two miniature represenations of his work in Sidney, Ohio, and three small artistic instruments.
Box
VHS tapes, 1990, undated (2 tapes) 9
Realia, undated 9