book review: Visual Culture Impacts US History: What Is Seen and What Is Erased?

SNCC poster, Come Let Us Build a New World Together, 1962, photograph by Danny Lyon. (Credit: Copyright Danny Lyon/Magnum Photos; image reproduction: Joseph A. Labadie Collection, University of Michigan)

SNCC poster, Come Let Us Build a New World Together, 1962, photograph by Danny Lyon. (Credit: Copyright Danny Lyon/Magnum Photos; image reproduction: Joseph A. Labadie Collection, University of Michigan)


“Nicolas Lampert’s A People’s Art History of the United States is a fascinating, if anecdotal, look at the ways activist art propels and augments social change movements. It makes no bones about the fact that it is not an all-encompassing survey of progressive art but is instead a look at the ways specific activists have used visual media – broadly defined to include everything from installations and street theater to painting, sculpture, puppetry, poster-making and photography.

Along the way Lampert interrogates how imagery has been used to promote rebellion against the British; support abolition; boost woman suffrage; honor Chicago’s Haymarket martyrs; contest lynching; oppose World War I; publicize the World War II-era incarceration of Japanese citizens and US-born Japanese Americans; support civil rights and, later, build the Black Panther Party; push museums and galleries to feature more women and people of color; oppose nuclear power; support People with AIDS; and build a more peaceful and egalitarian world.”


full review posted on Truthout.

WUWM radio interview: Promoting Climate Justice Through Art Activism

A link to a WUWM radio interview with Bonnie North on the Lake Effect show about art activism in Paris. Also the text from the WUWM feature:

“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.

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.”

A Rebel’s Guide to Art History: PAH book review by Paul Mullan

Link to an extensive review by Paul Mullan of A People’s Art History of the United States for Red Wedge Magazine. Mullan’s review goes far beyond that of a book review: it is a review about why activist art matters and why a focus on looking outside the art world for this type of work is so critical.

PAH excerpt: Antinuclear Street Art


Here is another excerpt from A People’s Art History of the United States. This excerpt starts with the introduction to the chapter and then segues to the middle section. I chose to highlight this chapter this month because of the past/present connections to the the tactics of the Groundwork action. A broad coalition of artists across the country and beyond, including some of us in Justseeds, are currently working on projects to bring creative activism to New York City in September for the People’s Climate March (September 21, 2014) to address the climate crisis. In researching the Groundwork project in 1989 I was inspired by the scale of their vision and how they harnessed street art and tactical media. They set out to cover the five boroughs of New York with 10,000 stencils during the spring and summer of 1989. They recognized that to make a dent in all the visual noise in New York City that you had to think along the scale of the city. Here is the excerpt.