After high school, Ed attended Cornell University in upstate New York where he studied architectural design and sculpture for a few years. In 1961, to escape the cold, he joined the great American migration to California where he worked in architectural and design firms and attended the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated at the top of his class in Architecture with Honors and won the American Institute of Architects' Student medal. During this time, he also spent a formative summer in Salzburg, Austria, in Alfred Hrdlicka’s sculpture section of the Oskar Kokoschka School of Vision where he received the highest award for a non-professional sculptor.
Ed then moved back to the East Coast of the United States to join the original architectural and urban design team for the new town of Columbia, Maryland. Later, in order to join the political activities in Berkeley in 1968, Ed returned to the University of California where he received a Master's Degree in City and Regional Planning with an emphasis in Housing Finance. For over thirty-five years, Ed has made a successful career developing and financing affordable housing for low-income people as well as developing policy and programs on the local, state and national levels to enhance the economic wellbeing of disadvantaged people. He has also taught upper division and graduate level courses in community-based economic development and affordable housing finance at numerous colleges and universities, including the University of California at Berkeley, Davis, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.
About twenty years ago, Ed discovered glass and neon art as well as the new scientific theories of self-organizing chaos and emergence. To further these interests and get back into art, he took many studio classes in glass and neon sculpture at the California College of the Arts in Oakland, the Academy of Arts College in San Francisco and the Crucible Fire Arts School in Oakland. He has spent several summers at the Pilchuck and Corning glass schools as well as at Northlands Creative Glass in Scotland.
His glass and gas plasma sculptures have been exhibited in shows and galleries across the United States as well as in Taiwan, Japan, Australia, Austria, France, Switzerland and Turkey. He has been included in numerous shows at the Museum of Neon Art (MONA) in Los Angeles and Glandale, California, where he is on the Technical Advisory Board and served for several years on its Board of Trustees and as its Treasurer. Ed’s sculpture has also been represented in such public venues as the International Terminal at the San Francisco Airport and the Oakland Museum of California. His work entitled "Cone of Chaos" was a Corning Glass selection for the year 2000 and was published in the October 2001 issue of "Neues Glas" as well as in the recent book, “25 Years of New Glass Review” by The Corning Museum of Glass.
Examples of his work have also been featured in several other glass art publications including the World Art Glass Quarterly. The di Rosa Preserve in Napa, California, a major regional private fine art collection, as well as Technorama, the Swiss Science Center near Zurich have acquired examples of his glass and plasma sculptures for their permanent collections as have many other private collectors here and in Europe. In recognition of his work, Ed was elected to the Board of Directors of the Glass Art Society (GAS) and serves on its Development and Finance Committees.
Ed likes to teach and share his unique glass and plasma art and techniques with others. For example, he has offered intensive workshops in Japan, sponsored by the Ropex glass art company and in France at the European glass school, CERFAV, sponsored by the French national crafts association, Atelier d'Art. In 2004, he was invited to demonstrate his work at the annual Glass Arts Society conference in New Orleans and did the same at their 2007 conference in Pittsburg. Ed has taught glass and plasma sculpture at the University of California in San Diego and is on the faculty of the Crucible Fire Arts School in Oakland and the Glass Furnace near Istanbul in Turkey. To expand his teaching internationally, Ed has been awarded a five year Fulbright Specialist Program Fellowship by the US Department of State.
Ed Kirshner is a long time resident of Oakland, California. He first moved there over 50 years ago from New York where he was born in 1940. Both his parents were artists and designers. Because of their influence, Ed's exposure to art started early. He studied art for as long as he can remember, either in public school or in one of his mother's private art classes. What he considers his first formal training was during high school when he attended the Art Students' League of New York. His first job related to art was during the same period when he worked in his father's design and graphics department.