Reclaiming the City: Art, Policy and Resistance in Urban Space

Johanna K. Taylor | Assistant Professor, The Design School, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

Cities are places of contestation and negotiation, where residents navigate policy structures defining urban space to establish their daily lives. Within the city, cooperative art making practices are platforms for communication, elevating resident voice to call out systems of exclusion that underscore daily life while shaping a new vision of the future city.

This project uses New Orleans as a focal case study in conjunction with examples from Phoenix and other cities. New Orleans is a thriving hub of grassroots cultural organizing and cooperative art projects where rich cultural legacies from Mardi Gras Indians to second line parades intermix with an explosion of art galleries and transplanted artists working in the streets. In this culturally vibrant, ever-changing city, cooperative art practices are challenging legacies of racial and social injustice, while city officials and policymakers are navigating similar tensions evident in services from housing to education. Specific cases are used to examine the intersections between local policy processes and cooperative art practices that unite people to address local social issues, build coalitions of resistance and reshape local policy impacting urban life.

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