Helen Dwyer Matteson was born May 25th, 1925 in Chicago. She received her undergraduate degree in History from the University of Rochester in 1946, where she studied music and piano. In 1947 she moved to New York City and took classes at the National Academy of Design and at the Art Student League. It was at the Greenwich House in 1950 that she met Ira. They married in 1952 and in 1958 had their only child, Abby.
Helen spent her time painting and drawing, reading, and listening to music. She frequented museums and galleries wherever they lived, exposing herself to the contemporary artists of her time. Ira said that he and Helen spoke only occasionally about their art, but often discussed the work of others. Helen’s artwork was made privately and rarely shared, except on a few occasions between 1976 – 1982 while she and Ira lived in Ohio, and where Ira taught at Kent State. In 1982, Helen had a solo exhibition at the Akron Art Museum, Akron, Ohio.
Helen continued to paint and draw when they moved to Thetford, Vermont rarely missing a day from 1994 until her death in 2011. She produced over 400 complete sketchbooks, and nearly 8,000 small format paintings and drawings on paper; 36 individual series, one series with 2,400 variations, all of which are undated, untitled and unsigned by the artist. Helen’s geometric and minimalist forms are imbued with a deep appreciation of the abstract themes of her time. Within the simple setting of her one story home where she lived with Ira, in an alcove with a restive, east-facing view of her lawn sloping towards a thick pine forest, Helen worked with great dedication and created the majority of what remains of her work today. It is in this rural town removed from all distractions that she painted ritualistically, undisturbed, and without regard for audience or outcome.