An interview of William Harper conducted 2004 January 12-13, by Harold B. Nelson, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in New York City, N.Y.
Harper speaks of growing up in the small town of Bucyrus, Ohio; taking art lessons as a child; attending Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art and completing an M.S. in Art Education; exhibiting at the May Show at Cleveland Museum of Art; choosing to work in enamels, especially cloisonné, and its relationship to painting; visiting New York for the first time and seeing an exhibit of June Schwarcz's work; participating in both national juried exhibitions and solo exhibitions, including a one-man exhibition at the Renwick Gallery; and receiving the National Endowment for the Arts Craft Research Fellowship. Harper also speaks of teaching experiences at several schools; being hired at Florida State University; teaching workshops at the Penland School of Crafts; publishing his book, "Step by Step Enameling;" his affiliation with various craft and fine art galleries; moving to New York City; using precious and commonplace materials; his technique in creating pieces and the tendency to work in series, such as Pagan Babies and Pentimenti; exploring jewelry forms; and the influence of African sculpture, art history, religion, mythology, and artist Jasper Johns on his artwork. Harper also recalls Kenneth Bates, John Paul Miller, Margaret Craver, Robert Ebendorf, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
William Claude Harper (1944- ) is a jeweler and enamelist from New York, N.Y.
Originally recorded on 4 sound discs. Reformatted in 2010 as 15 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hr., 29 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.