|Harper was born in 1945. He attended Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland,
Ohio and earned a degree in art education. It was at Case Western Reserve University where
he was first introduced to enameling. Harper is a prominent enamelist in contemporary
metalsmithing. He later went on to further his work in enamel at Cleveland Art Institute.
The most influential person to Harper's development as an enamelist was John Paul Miller.
Miller's handling of form and the relationships he developed between form and concept were
inspiring to Harper. Harper's metalworking skills are mostly self taught. He learned many
of his basic skills by observing people work.
After Harper completed his education he taught art in high school in Parma, Ohio. He
taught there for three years. From there Harper took a two year teaching sabbatical
replacement position at Kent State University. He also authored a book in 1973 on
enameling, Step By Step Enameling. For a period of time Harper quit teaching and
conducted several workshops and lectures nationwide. Harper accepted another teaching
position after this experience at Florida State University in Talahasse, Florida, where he
currently is teaching.
Harper has exhibited his work throughout the country and is the recipient of three
National Endowment for the Arts fellowships. Harper states,
"I have tried to avoid all metalsmithing trends in contemporary
terms. I do what I want to do.
My work is a natural progression of conceptualization with materials."