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Promoting Climate Justice Through Art Activism in Milwaukee & Beyond

When people and organizations take to the street to protest an event or policy, you often see many homemade signs and banners. However, Milwaukee artist Nicolas Lampert believes that through creating unique and professional signage, a cause can get more attention and validation.

Lampert is a senior lecturer at UWM's Peck School of the Arts as well as an artist with the Justseeds Artists' Cooperative, a worker-owner printmaking cooperative, and Climate Prints, a website that offers artwork to activist organizations around the world. He is also part of ReciproCITY, a mobile cultural center.

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Credit www.nicolaslampert.org
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"How to Stop an Oil Train" by Nicholas Lampert

His passions have led him to focus on social justice and ecological causes, so much so that Lampert attended the COP21 climate conference in Paris last month as a protestor and artist.

"What makes the climate justice movement so vital is the urgency of the issue," he explains. "There's simply not much time to really restructure the world's energy production and the way we power our countries and our cities."

Through collaborative efforts, Lampert has put his and other artists' work at the forefront of various causes. "I want to make a difference with my art, and I think the way you do that is by networking with other groups, putting art directly into movements," he explains.

From banners that are 200 feet long to posters plastered on the walls of buildings, Lampert believes that the art made for a movement demands as much attention as the people shouting the slogans. 

Lampert believes that all movements need artists be to involved in the decision making process. "When environmental movements and activists are trying to get their message out, the media is going to train its camera on something that is photogenic. And when you have a demonstration that is coordinated and there's massive banners, floats, and you name it...that's compelling," he says.

"Paris is just another stepping stone...2016 and beyond is where a lot of this hard work continues," Lampert adds.

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Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.
Audrey is a producer, host and reporter for Lake Effect. She is involved with every aspect of the show — from conducting interviews, editing audio, posting web stories and mixing the show together.