It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget what really matters to you. With help from friends and neighbors, Candy 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 share what is important to them. Before I Die is an interactive public art project that transforms neglected spaces into a constructive places where we can discover the hopes and dreams of the people around us. It is also a reminder to ourselves of what is most important to us. 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.
From the funny and creative to the thoughtful and heartbreaking, people’s responses on the wall were more than Candy could have ever imagined: Before I die I want to… sing for millions, see my daughter graduate, eat a salad with an alien, see the leaves change many times, be someone’s cavalry, straddle the International Date Line, cook a souffle, hold her one more time, make it in the hip hop, help numerous children, see what I’m like as an old man, tell my mother I love her, make peace with Ohio, abandon all insecurities, be completely myself, evaporate into the light… The project was featured in Oprah Magazine, and The Atlantic called it “merely one of the most creative community projects ever.”
After receiving many requests from people around the world, she and her Civic Center colleagues created a Before I Die Toolkit to help you create a wall with your community. Thanks to your passion, this participatory public art project is turning into a global movement and expanding to cities around the world, including Amsterdam, Portsmouth, Querétaro, Almaty, San Diego, Lisbon, Brooklyn, and beyond – see other walls on the project site! You can also take a piece of the dream home with you with a limited edition painting and submit your dreams on the project site. We are currently developing a new site to feature walls around the world, as well as additional resources – stay tuned! The project is growing every day and together, we can design better public spaces in our communities that help us live our best lives.
2011, 41′ x 8′, Chalkboard paint, stencils, spray paint. New Orleans, LA. Self-initiated with permission from the property owner, residents of the block, the neighborhood association’s blight committee, the Historic District Landmarks Commission, the Arts Council, and the City Planning Commission. Installation assistance: Kristina Kassem, Alan Williams, Cory Klemmer, Anamaria Vizcaino, James Reeves, Alex Vialou, Sean Knowlton, Carolina Caballero, Earl Carlson, and Gary Hustwit. Concurrently installed in East/West Galleries. With support from the Black Rock Arts Foundation.
Once the wall is filled, we wash the board with water and start with a clean slate again. We are documenting all responses and some will be included in a book.
Update March 16, 2011 – This out-of-pocket project now has a pocket thanks to the Black Rock Arts Foundation! It will make a big difference, thank you.
Images and text from:http://candychang.com/before-i-die-in-nola/