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May 24, 2011
It's hard to know where to begin with Candy Chang. She is at the same time a designer, public artist, and urban planner who's goal is simply "to make cities more comfortable for people." We love how she has opened up discourse around public space by providing people with easy and innovative ways to have a say about how their urban environment should be developed. Whether it is with post-it notes or a piece of chalk, Chang has proven that you don't need big budgets to have a big impact.
By mixing the mischievousness and accessibility of street art with her passion for redefining public space for the greater good, Chang has come up with some clever ways to allow the public to have a voice. We love these low-tech interventions that are site specific. Her most recent project, which we highlighted on Wooster Collective was Before I Die. Here, Candy took an abandoned house in her neighborhood and repurposed it as a chalk board for her neighbors to "remember and share what is important to them" by writing about their hopes and dreams. The responses vary from wacky and humorous to deeply personal. A few examples: Before I die I want to... "eat all the candy and sushi in the world," "hold her one more time," "tell my mother I love her," "eat salad with an alien," and "see the leaves change many times."
Many street artists use "Hello, My Name is..." stickers for their unauthorized public art as a cheap and fun way to interact with the city. For Chang's I Wish This Was... project she made thousands of "Hello, My name is..."-style stickers but with the words "I Wish This Was..." on them instead. She gave them to the public to stick on the abandoned buildings and undeveloped areas of New Orleans so they could express what they wanted the space to become. This gives a voice to those most affected by the developments, or lack thereof, in their city and encourages people to take an interest in urban planning.
Chang's achievements have not gone unnoticed. She was made a TED Global Fellow in 2009 and this year she's a 2011 TED Senior Fellow as well as a Rockefeller Center and Tulane University Urban Innovation Challenge Fellow.
Public space is rapidly disappearing as developers and advertisers use their power to transform areas, often with little public input or relevance. Chang's immense skill and passion combined with her use of street art to encourage citizens to have a voice and participate in change is why to us, Candy Chang is Character Approved.
[Image: Candy Chang, Before I Die]