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, 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 remember what is important to them. Before I Die is a public art project that invites people to reflect on their lives and share their personal aspirations in public space. Painted with chalkboard paint and stenciled with the sentence “Before I die I want to _______”, the wall becomes an enlightening way to understand your neighbors and discover what matters most to the people around you. It creates a public space for contemplation and reminds us why we want to be alive in the world today. 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. This was the basis for her graduate thesis.
The responses have ranged from the funny and creative to the thoughtful and heartbreaking: Before I die I want to… sing for millions, see my daughter graduate, eat a salad with an alien, straddle the International Date Line, see the leaves change many times, be someone’s cavalry, cook a souffle, hold her one more time, 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… The project was featured in Oprah Magazine and NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams, 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 a new project site and a Before I Die Toolkit to help you create a wall with your community! Thanks to your passion, this wall is turning into a global participatory art project and expanding to cities around the world, including Amsterdam, Portsmouth, Querétaro, Almaty, San Diego, Lisbon, Brooklyn, London, and beyond. 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. The project is growing every day and together we can make public spaces that encourage us to reflect and lead better lives. Visit beforeidie.cc for more.