Posts Tagged ‘new orleans


Street Public Consultations

This is an absolutely fascinating urban design project which I love as a street artist, an urban planner in training, a visually-obsessed sorta-designer with an interest in grassroots-based planning and public awareness and as a longtime fan of New Orleans who went into urban planning with the idea of working in a disaster relief capacity.

The project is courtesy of urban planner/designer Candy Chang, someone who has managed to fuse urban planning and a passion for awesome art and design (something which I have been trying to do for what seems like ages). I have been spending part of the last two months thinking over the question of how I could transform something like the Swap Box Project or the Urban Journals into more of a thematic idea that could be used in the service of urban planning projects. They began as social experiments and evolved into means of ‘micro-revitalization’ that temporarily give a small area of public space a whole new interactive potential…
Swap Box


New Orleans thoughts, Part one

Working on reconstruction projects in New Orleans always leaves me feeling somewhat pensive and conflicted. The first time I was in New Orleans post-Katrina was in December of 2006, fifteen months after the storm. I went down to offer up my skills as a drywaller, house gutter and cook. I saw it as being a learning experience as well. I’ve never had to face the bigotry, poverty and institutionalized racism that contributed so greatly to Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of poor black New Orleans neighbourhoods, and part of me wanted to challenge my view of the world by seeing its impacts up close.

I found myself feeling rather wary about staying in the city’s Lower 9th Ward, a historically working-class black neighbourhood. I felt like an outsider, a privileged university student who doesn’t have to deal with the everyday frustrations and tribulations of their lives let alone all the problems caused by the storm. I don’t have to worry about a rickety-looking levee crumbling and washing away my livelihood.

I also found myself thinking a bit about street art and its entry into both popular culture and the mainstream art world. Despite the anonymity of streetart, how much do colour and gender barriers still play a role in who gets noticed or who sells? It’s inspiring seeing streetart and graffiti becoming a truly international art movement and non-North American artists (such as Os Gemeos and Jace) getting noticed.
But I remember flipping through a newspaper last year and seeing two stories on adjoining pages- one of which was about how a Banksy piece on the side of a house sold for a record amount, while the other was about the unexplained death in police custody of a black youth arrested for spraypainting.

And that’s what I keep coming back to.

Turns out I just stumbled onto some old Swap Box pictures I hadn’t seen before, from Knitnut… I’m starting to select pictures for my yet-untitled streetart book, and some of these might just make it in.

Inside the box Larger pic
Bigger pic


Some New Orleans pics, thoughts to follow…

Everytime I’m down in New Orleans working on a reconstruction project, I always leave feeling somewhat pensive, conflicted, and looking for a chance to reflect on what it is that I’ve learned. I had intended to write a good long post about my experiences, reflections on my position in society and thoughts on streetart, urban planning and professionalism as a whole, but I’m downright exhausted right now and so that will just have to wait a day or two.

In the meantime, here are a couple of photos.

Faces by Freya on the side of a boarded-up house, Burgundy St.

Inside a gutted-out Baptist church, Lower 9th Ward

Enamel paint and paint markers on an old hubcap. More pics available at my Flickr page


New Orleans Bounce

Greetings from New Orleans…

Looking out onto the streets of the Lower 9th Ward gives you a veritable mishmash of sights. Some places are abuzz with swarms of construction and framing workers, bulldozers, earth movers and pickup trucks of all kinds weaving about to one of the many houses being thrown up or refinished. Housing construction is taking off here, led by Brad Pitt’s Make It Right foundation. Its raised experimental houses, designed by some of the world’s leading architects, sit uncomfortably amidst their surroundings on their concrete stilts like pastel blocks or children’s toys. In other places, only weed-covered foundations remain…here a still-standing stretchh of perimeter fence, there concrete steps that lead to nowhere.

Down here I’ve put up some street art and took a lot of pictures that I’ll upload once I get back home. I’ve also talked to some folks from Nola Rising who have been involved in some great community-building projects and have others in progress. New Orleans has become a destination of choice for some of the biggest names in street art, including Banksy, Swoon, and Dan Witz.

I’ve been doing some reading on vernacular sculpture projects to fill my head with ideas for the Champ-De-Mars redesign, and I’d like to introduce some of you to one of my all-time favorites- the Rodia Towers of Watts, CA. They were built over a period of three decades by one man from steel , mortar and scrap porcelain and glass tiles.
A short film
Rodia Towers Wiki
An incredible spherical panorama view of the Rodia Towers