Born in Kansas City, Hardy studied ceramics at the University of Kansas, where she was awarded her BFA in 1987. Her last year of undergraduate studies was at the Howard Gardens Art School in Cardiff, South Wales, as part of a study-abroad program. In 1990 she received her MFA in ceramics from Indiana University. Hardy has taught at the University of Wyoming in Laramie since 2001, and has been a professor in the metalsmithing program since 2014. Since 2000 she has focused on intimately scaled mixed-media metal insects rendered in vivid naturalistic detail, layered with rich social and political content. These have been exhibited nationally and internationally, acknowledged with numerous awards, presented at international workshops, and featured in books and articles.