Dozier, Velma Davis (1901–1988)

By: Kendall Curlee

Type: Biography

Published: August 1, 1995

Velma Davis Dozier, cofounder of the Dallas School of Creative Arts and the Craft Guild of Dallas and jeweler known for abstract designs in silver and gold, was born near Waco on April 17, 1901, the eldest of five children of Robert Edward and Elizabeth Eleanor (Harbour) Davis. She studied painting with Vivian L. Aunspaugh in Dallas in 1920 and 1926 and from 1926 to 1927 attended Southern Methodist University. She then studied painting and printmaking at Texas State College for Women in Denton (later Texas Woman's University), earning a bachelor of science degree in 1932. The next year Davis attended Columbia University in New York City, where she was introduced to jewelrymaking. Her visits to museums in New York City stimulated a love for primitive art that became a major influence on her craft. By the time she earned her master of arts degree from Columbia in 1933, Davis had chosen jewelrymaking as her primary artistic medium. Upon her return to Dallas, she cofounded, with silversmith Esther Webb Houseman, the Dallas School of Creative Arts, at that time the only metalsmithing shop in the country outside of New York City. Davis taught metalsmithing at the school until it closed in 1940. One of the school's other teachers, painter Otis M. Dozier, became her husband in 1940. After their marriage in Dallas they moved to Colorado, where she attended the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, studying life drawing with Boardman Robinson and pottery with Eric Helman. The Doziers returned to Dallas in 1945. There she resumed her role as a leader in the art community, assisting in the organization of the Craft Guild of Dallas in 1948, and in 1956 becoming a charter member of Texas Designer Craftsmen. In 1950 Dozier participated in the National Design Exhibition at Texas Western College in El Paso, the first of many public exhibitions of her work. In the following years she traveled extensively in Mexico and visited Italy, Spain, Turkey, India, Ceylon, Thailand, and Japan.

Dozier's jewelry tended to be simple in effect, though each piece typically rewarded close examination with subtle flourishes such as textural variations, unexpected combinations of metals and beads, or an innovative clasp. Throughout her career she continued to learn new skills, mastering techniques such as casting, soldering, forging, riveting, hinging, fusing, granulation, tube drawing, enameling, stone cutting and setting, and patinating. She frequently combined several techniques in a single piece. Dozier exhibited a trend-setting interest in ethnic materials, using objects found on her travels for pieces, such as a copper and silver necklace set with a pre-Columbian ceramic head (1933) and a necklace with Cambodian burial beads (1964). Natural forms and materials were also an important source of inspiration. She preferred working with gold and after 1958 rarely used silver in her pieces. She won awards for work exhibited in crafts exhibitions at the Dallas Museum of Art; the Minnesota Museum of Art in St. Paul, Minnesota; the Everhart Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania; and the Wichita Art Association in Wichita, Kansas, among others. Her work was featured with that of her husband in several dual exhibitions, notably A Salute to the Doziers of Dallas, mounted by the Dallas Museum of Art in 1974. Velma Davis Dozier died in Dallas on December 1, 1988, and was buried in Restland Memorial Park there. Examples of her work are in the collections of the Dallas Museum of Art and the Minnesota Museum of Art in St. Paul.

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Dallas Morning News, December 3, 1988. Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Collection, Jerry Bywaters Special Collections Wing, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University. A Salute to the Doziers of Dallas (Exhibition Catalogue, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, 1974). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Visual Arts
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Women
  • Education


  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Kendall Curlee, “Dozier, Velma Davis,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 20, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 1, 1995

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