Can you describe your work and how your planning degree contributes to it?
I transform neighborhoods and business districts with public art installations that reaffirm community Identity, whether that Identity is past, present or future; real or imagined.
I've always been a street artist but it was when I combined art with urban planning that my career began to progress. My installations are economic development tools, attracting visitors to an area's commercial corridors, where they spend money. As in museums, where exhibit goers are encouraged to "exit through the gift shop", the outdoor displays are the attraction and the commercial corridors the gift shop. Art + Urban Planning = Creative Placemaking
What do you like most about your current job or related work in planning?
My work gives me a chance to earn money while expressing myself in a field in which I am genuinely interested. In my last project, I was commissioned to create create six 10-foot-wide x 13-foot-tall murals on 39th Street, from King Drive to Rhodes and to wrap a 260-foot fence on King Drive with the images of 26 of the area's notable residents, connecting a new Mariano's grocery store to the Bronzeville community. Wrapping the store in a cultural ambience in which to place its retail was right there at the intersection of Art and Urban Planning and was very fulfilling.
What advice do you wish you had gotten as a MUPP or, conversely, what advice would you give to young planners today?
1. Earning a master's degree isn't about remembering information, it's about knowing how and where to find information when you need it. Don't focus on the individual tree so much that you miss the forest.
2. Earning a master's degree isn't just about academics, it's about connections. Get the business card of your professors and every guest who speaks in class. When you graduate, use your network.