Trained as an Urban Planner, designer and visual artist Candy Chang has been making art in the public sphere since 2006. In 2009 she collaborated with the Center for Urban Pedagogy and the Street Vendor Project to make a poster pamphlet that explained the complex regulatory system for street vendors in New York City. The project includes a history of street vending in New York, interviews with street vendors and policy reform recommendations. Over a thousand copies of the guide have been distributed in the city and vendors have reported back to the Center for Urban Pedagogy that they use the guide when talking to police officers about regulation enforcement.
Vendor Power builds on Chang’s interest in finding new ways to engage public in shared space. Her Community Chalkboards and Before I Die installations also ask individuals to consider and reimagine how they interact with one another in shared space. By contributing to these interactive chalk murals, passersby broadcast their thoughts and ideas in unconventional ways, disrupting normative expectations of public space.
Though the regulations and history shared in the Vendor Power guide are specific to New York City, Chang’s process of placing power in the hands of people to disrupt and engage in public space, offers inspiration for residents in any geography to engage with the built environment in new ways.