The light in Delaware seems a little dimmer since Ed Loper left us on October 9. His artistic vision and life story inspired all of us. Yet Ed Loper wasn’t supposed to be a successful artist, if one accepted the norms and stereotypes of the world in which he grew up. In the 1930s, a poor black man from Wilmington’s East Side was supposed to find a job to feed his family, not pursue a dream of being an artist. But Ed Loper managed to do both. The Index of American Design, part of the federal Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, gave him his artistic start. He taught himself by haunting art museums. He worked at Allied Kid by day and painted at night. Ed Loper never gave up on his dream, and finally was able to devote himself entirely to painting and teaching.
Ed Loper was on of Delaware’s great artists and citizens of our times. Although he is no longer with us, his life and work will inspire and instruct us for generations to come because he and his wife Janet Nevill-Loper donated his personal papers to the Delaware Historical Society.