Hobart E. Cowles (1923-1980) was a ceramicist and educator in Rochester, New York. He was an early experimenter with the firing of clay and is credited with playing an important role in the introduction of chemistry to clay processes.
Cowles, who was originally from Madison, Ohio, earned a BFA in ceramics from Wesleyan Conservatory in Macon, Georgia, in 1949, and completed his MFA at Ohio University in 1950. Cowles subsequently began teaching at Rochester Institute of Technology's School for American Crafts, working alongside Frans Wildenhain. He taught courses in glaze chemistry and ceramic history at R.I.T up until his death in 1980.
Cowles began showing his work, predominantly boxes, lidded jars, and sculptures decorated with self-designed glazes, almost immediately upon his arrival in Rochester. Although he went on to have his work featured in group exhibitions around the world, including at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York and at the Brussels Worlds Fair, he focused primarily on his craft and his teaching throughout his career.