Chris Devins is an Artist/Urban Planner who creates outdoor Art exhibits designed to attract tourists and increase community pride. He is part of a team that won a 2016 Best Practices award from the Illinois Chapter of the American Planning Association.
Chris Devins Creative began in Bronzeville, Chicago as an outgrowth of Chris' work on the Residents at Risk study conducted by the Urban Institute and Harvard University. Residents at Risk was a profile of the Ida B. Wells/Madden Park housing complex conducted just as residents' homes were being demolished. As he pondered the loss of yet another important Bronzeville development, Chris began to think about Identity and the role it plays in a neighborhood's economic and social viability.
The Bronzeville Legends Identity Initiative is a creative placemaking campaign that uses large scale public art installations to create a backdrop, an ambiance within which the community’s commercial and cultural activities can take place and wthat act as a magnet for tourism and a catalyst for healthy outdoor activities like biking and walking. An investment in high impact, coordinated Public Art that conveys a single message of Black excellence compliment all of the cultural activities that go on in Bronzeville and support the new Artist galleries and work spaces, attracting those members of the "creative class" so important to the revival of any community. The works turn the neighborhood's vacant lots into a positive attribute because the open spaces create viewing opportunities. The photo murals "activate' the space around them and support the many gardens springing up in the neighborhood.
The Initiative consists of images of Bronzeville’s historic figures such as Muddy Waters, Jack Johnson, Sam Cooke, Lorraine Hansberry, Richard Wright, Mahalia Jackson, William Dawson, Ida B. Wells, Louis Armstrong, Andrew “Rube” Foster, Joe Louis, Gwendolyn Brooks, Bessie Coleman, Nat King Cole others.
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