Omaha, Nebraska, has a lead-contaminated superfund site and substandard housing that pose risks for childhood lead exposure. Healthy Housing Omaha (formerly, Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance), an environmental health nonprofit, partnered with the fourth author, an artist, and a newspaper to raise awareness about lead poisoning by publishing portraits and stories of affected community members.
The authors analyzed an interview with the artist, photographs of portraits published in a local newspaper, and quotations from portrait sitters.
Shared stories of lead exposure and poisoning conveyed in the portraiture and printmaking processes revealed structural racism as an emergent theme.
Arts-based research methods, such as portraiture, can be scaled and applied to support national and international community engagement efforts to advocate for environmental justice and public health.