Edward Harkness, a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design (BFA‘70) and Illinois State University (MFA‘80), has taught Ceramic Art, Foundation Design and Installation Art at Western Michigan University’s  Frostic School of Art from 1980 to the present. Harkness has exhibited nationally in many states including New York, Massachusetts, California, Arizona, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan.   He has conducted research on Ceramic Art traditions in Japan, Korea and Italy and has exhibited his artwork in these countries.

Harkness has received a number of competitive grants and was WMU International Exchange Professor to Korea. In December 2010 he travelled to Indonesia for research into contemporary crafts traditions there and also presented a ceramic workshop at the Art Institute of Indonesia (ISI), Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia.  In 2014 he travelled to the Australian cities of Canberra, Sydney, Darwin, Alice Springs, Uluru and Brisbane.  He presented lectures on his work at the Australian National University Ceramics Department in Canberra and at the Sydney College of Art Ceramics Department in Sydney.


Creating ceramic art for me is about being playful with the clay. I’m inspired by natural landscapes, exceptional architecture, as well as more humble geometric and organic forms. Historical arts, folk traditions, and unexpected adventures also stimulate my art making. For example, my experience of traveling in the Central Desert region of Australia has manifested in my recent work titled Orbs at Rest. Etruscan artifacts and D.H. Lawrence’s description of Etruscan life inspired my Ancient Traces plate series, whereas a harrowing sail on Lake Michigan, which I captained, compelled me to create the installation Sea Passage.

The legendary French circumnavigator Bernard Moitessier described his technique for teaching young sailors to give way to a “nimbed mystery, a blue-tinted horizon, as it did to mariners of old.” I try to emulate his poetic instructions for making a sea crossing beyond the sight of land by combining technical skill with an innate trust in intuitive creativity.