Before I Die is an interactive public art project by Candy Chang that invites people to share their hopes and dreams in public space.
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget what really matters to you. With help from old and new friends, artist Candy Chang turned the side of an abandoned house in her neighborhood in New Orleans into a giant chalkboard where residents can write on the wall and remember what is important to them.
Painted with chalkboard paint and stenciled with the sentence “Before I die I want to _______”, the wall became a space where we could learn the hopes and dreams of the people around us. Before I Die transformed a neglected space into a constructive one to help improve our neighborhood and our personal well-being. It’s a question that changed Candy after she lost someone she loved very much, and she believes the design of our public spaces can better reflect what matters to us as a community and as individuals. The reaction to the wall was more than she could have ever imagined.
From the funny and creative to the thoughtful and heartbreaking, the responses have made her laugh out loud and also tear up: Before I die I want to… sing for millions, see my daughter graduate, eat a salad with an alien, straddle the International Date Line, hold her one more time, cook a soufflé, love and be loved, abandon all insecurities, be completely myself…
The project was featured in Oprah Magazine and NBC, and The Atlantic called it “one of the most creative community projects ever.” After receiving many requests from people around the world, she and her Civic Center colleagues created this site and a Before I Die Toolkit to help you create a wall with your community. The project is growing every day and together we can make public spaces that encourage us to reflect and, through our collective wisdom, help us lead better lives.