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Robert Lewis Lepper

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Robert Lewis Lepper

American, (1906–1991)
Robert L. Lepper (1906-1991) was born in Aspinwall, PA and graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1927. After spending thirteen months in Europe studying art, Lepper worked for the "Sun-Telegraph" as a "hack artist." He joined the faculty at Carnegie Tech in 1930, where he would remain until his retirement in 1975. He married Helen Jewett in 1933. They had one daughter, Susan.

Mr. Lepper was instrumental in establishing the first degree-granting School of Industrial Design at Carnegie Tech in 1934. It was the first of its kind in the country. To ease the employment problems caused by the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration established the Federal Arts Project(1935-1943) to employ the nation's artists. During this time The Treasury Department also established two art programs in the 1930s; the Treasury Relief Art Project and the Section of Fine Arts.

Mr. Lepper did two murals in post offices in Grayling, Michigan and Caldwell, Ohio for the Section of Fine Arts(1934-1943). He also painted a mural for the new Mineral Industries Building for West Virginia University during 1940-1942 which depicted the prevalent industries in West Virginia. A sandblasted mural done in marble in 1952 by Mr. Lepper can be found in the GSIA building on campus. Lepper also pioneered the use of plastic (acrylic resin) with powdered pigments in his art work. He pursued the idea of passenger comfort in public transportation in the late 1960s with his Transit Vehicle Design project which stressed an angled seating arrangement.

As an educator, he believed in letting students be independent thinkers and use their own creativity. He developed a curriculum within the School of Industrial Design that emphasized this independence in students. One class he taught was Individual and Social Analysis which was a two semester course begun in 1965. The first semester was the Oakland Project. The second semester was called the Retrospective As an Artist. Robert Lepper was very much influenced by the impact of the machine on society which is seen in his art work.

Submitted by Paul Petsoky

University Archives, Carnegie Mellon University Libraries

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