Lauren Kennedy is the Executive Director of the UrbanArt Commission, an award-winning non-profit that works to bring public art and design enhancements to greater Memphis and beyond. Last week she took time to share a little about herself and her organization with us.
How did you get involved in UrbanArt?
I joined the UAC team as Executive Director in January 2015 after serving as the Partnership Manager for Ballet Memphis, where I interned as a grant writer while in my senior year at Rhodes College. I have always been interested in public art and worked on a number of projects as a college student in public spaces. I have also believed in the power of shared experiences and thoughtful spaces, and am thrilled to be part of such great work through UAC.
What is your favorite UrbanArt project you’ve worked on & why?
I am perhaps most excited about a large scale sculpture project that we are hoping to install later this year. We have been working with LA based artist Cameron McNall and Electroland on a 100 ft. tower near the airport. It will be the largest scale project that UAC has worked on in a long time and will become an iconic work for folks driving down I240 and coming and going from the airport. We are all very excited to share more details in the coming months.
What do you wish other people knew about the organization?
I think people are often surprised to find out that we have helped create over 150 public art projects across the city, in partnership with the City of Memphis, private developers and other community organizations. We seem to always have a bunch of new projects to keep us busy!
What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering or donating to your organization?
Your help means the world to us! We are a small, growing organization and your contribution – be it money or time – truly go far to help us better deliver on our mission of enhancing the cultural vibrancy of our community through public art. This is an exciting time to become more involved with UAC as we embark on new opportunities and raising our profile locally and nationally. We invite you to be part of this moment and help us shape the face of public art in Memphis.
Successful public art projects become woven into the daily fabric of our lives. I think a wonderful example of this is the I Love Memphis mural series that can be found all across Memphis. One of the most prominent examples is Brandon Marshall’s mural on Cooper Avenue. You can often drive by this mural and see people taking engagement and family photos, shooting music videos and even popping up in Grizzlies pre-game videos at FedEx Forum!