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portrait of Harper

William Harper

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."