Jul 21 2014

Before I Die...

By: Marsa Carlos

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  The theme of mortality is one that has a long history in the arts – poetry, film, painting, sculpture – and Candy Chang, creator of the “Before I die” wall project, continues this tradition with an exciting new medium.  The series began in 2011 when Chang, after suffering the loss of a loved one, took chalkboard paint and a stencil to the side of an abandoned building.  She painted the phrase “Before I die, I want to ______” and left it open for viewers to complete the sentence.
                  A variety of responses rained down: some funny and playful, others full of hope and ambition, some were sarcastic and wry and others were confessional.  Chang had essentially created a public, interactive, artistic space for contemplating what’s really important in life.
                  The idea exploded.  Walls can be found in 65 countries and 30 languages – public plazas, college campuses, temporary construction sites, street corners, parking garages, you name it.  Remixes of the idea have also cropped up with phrases like “Happiness is….” and “Before I graduate…” stenciled in cities all over the world.
                  Ogden Museum of Southern Arts commissioned Chang to create a wall display on their building in Downtown New Orleans in October 2013 during the Art for Arts’ Sake Festival.  Over 125 feet long, it is one of the largest walls in the world – fitting, for the city in which the idea was born.
                  “Fall in love.”  “Write a novel.”  “Own a boat.”  “Be the person she believes I am.”  These are just a few of the beautiful, anonymous wishes displayed on one of the walls.  Check out the wall at Ogden Museum and leave your mark.

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