What is it?
Before I Die is an interactive public art project that invites people to share their hopes and dreams in public space. After artist and urban planner Candy Chang lost someone she loved very much, she painted the wall of an abandoned house in her neighborhood in New Orleans with chalkboard paint and stenciled it with a grid of the sentence “Before I die I want to ______.” Passersby can use chalk to write directly on the wall. The project has since spread worldwide and walls have been created by communities in Mexico, the Netherlands, Australia, Kazakhstan, and beyond. The project is about remembering what is important to you, creating a public space for contemplation, and reimagining how our public spaces can better reflect what matters to us as a community and as individuals.
Who made it?
Candy Chang. She’s an artist, designer, urban planner, and co-founder of Civic Center, a civic design studio in New Orleans. She created the wall in her neighborhood in New Orleans after she lost someone she loved very much. Read her full bio here. Additional installation assistance by Kristina Kassem, Alan Williams, Cory Klemmer, Anamaria Vizcaino, James Reeves, Alex Vialou, Sean Knowlton, Carolina Caballero, Earl Carlson, and Gary Hustwit.
Made with primer, chalkboard paint, stencils, spray paint, chalk. 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. With generous support from the Black Rock Arts Foundation.
The original installation was created February 2011 and lasted until October 2011. At that point the property was purchased and the house is currently being renovated and turned into a home again. Happy ending! The project continues to grow, with new walls being made around the world every month.
The first installation was created on an abandoned house in Candy’s neighborhood in New Orleans, at the corner of Marigny St and Burgundy St (900 Marigny Street).
After receiving many requests from people around the world, Candy and her Civic Center colleagues created this project website and a Before I Die Toolkit to help people make a wall with their community and share their wall online. A book about the project will be published by St. Martin’s Press and released in 2013. Learn more here. (2012)