# Arts in Milwaukee – Keenan Lampe – art
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Arts in Milwaukee

A Public Service Of Milwaukee Artist Resource Network

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Keenan Lampe

  • Art
I am an Art Professional

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Contact Info
20 Ton Studios LLC
keenan.lampe@20tonstudios.com
My Sites

artist bio

If my own memories can be trusted, I decided to become an artist around the age of 5 or 6. Since then, the final destination for my career choice was and still is constantly shifting to match evolving interests and ambitions. By the end of high school, I had settled on sculpture as my preferred discipline after a lot of experimentation. I had also begun seeing art as a possible means of engaging with difficult topics, bridging the gaps between different ways of thinking, and promoting positive change in the world around me. Art for the sake of art was not reason enough. In retrospect, viewing art as a social responsibility is likely a significant portion of why, despite the stubbornness of my art habit, the interest in art was not all-consuming. A substantial amount of my attention and effort in school was dedicated to other subjects as well as sports and unrelated hobbies. I was coming to understand that a wide range of experience would be essential for making what I considered worthwhile art. During undergraduate studies at UW-Madison, I continued that strategy by triple majoring in Studio Art, Spanish, and Japanese, knowing that exposure to different cultures through language study and travel would provide a wealth of experiences and a valuable shift in perspective. Today, I am back in my hometown of Milwaukee working to put my ideas into action as Co-Founder of 20 Ton Studios, a collaborative art space at the corner of 20th St. and North Ave. where I specialize in large scale sculpture.

artist statement

For me, art is a tool.

When wielded properly, it can be a means of approaching and calling to attention a wide variety of the unusual, difficult, and complex problems plaguing our modern world. It is a skill to be practiced and honed to a razor edge in order to more efficiently and effectively accomplish the task at hand: bringing about significant and positive change.

For this reason, I endeavor to achieve an elevated level of craftsmanship in the sculptural processes I have learned while also studying new methods of construction so that I am prepared to creatively respond to a diverse range of questions in a deliberate and meaningful manner.

However, as serious as that sounds, I try to maintain a sense of humor in my work. Inspired by newspaper comics, stand-up comedy, or quality works of satire, I think wrapping the most serious of topics in cartoonish disguises can be an effective approach to facilitating meaningful discussion in visual art. This approach can seduce viewers with a jovial façade and then encourage them to face sobering realities with its content upon closer inspection or interaction. The ability to grapple with difficult topics through art feels especially important in recent years given the ever-increasing list of objectively horrifying things going on in the world. Climate change, the wide resurgence of fascism, economic systems on the brink of collapse, a bunch of garbage twice the size of Texas hanging out in the Pacific Ocean, wanton destruction of biodiverse ecosystems contributing to an ongoing mass extinction event, a general inability to secure basic human rights due to such complications as a sudden obsession with who uses what bathroom or the frequency of internalized homophobia leading to overcompensation from public figures. The list goes on and on.

For me, a spoonful of humor helps the existential dread go down.

proficiencies