Before I die I want to…

A little over a month ago, installation artist Candy Chang turned the side of an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighbourhood into a giant chalkboard where passers-by could write up their aspirations

A little over a month ago, installation artist Candy Chang turned the side of an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighbourhood into a giant chalkboard where passersby could write up their personal aspirations…

Before I Die, “transforms neglected spaces into constructive ones where we can learn the hopes and aspirations of the people around us,” Chang writes on her website.

As the founder of Civic Center, a design studio in the city that aims to “make thoughtful public spaces and communication tools for everyday issue of city life,” Chang has been following the progress of the messages as they have accumulated on the chalkboard.

The latest pictures from the Before I Die project, the first two images shown here, are from just a few days ago.

From “understand why I’m here” to “do a cartweel”…

The self-initiated piece (Chang sought permission from the property owner) is at 900 Marigny Street, on the corner of Marigny and Burgundy, in New Orleans. It was made using boarding and chalkboard paint – and plenty of chalk – in collaboration with the neighborhood association’s blight committee, the Historic District Landmarks Commission, the Arts Council, and the City Planning Commission.

The boards as of mid-March

“I believe the design of our public spaces can better reflect what’s important to us as residents and as human beings,” says Chang. “The responses and stories from passersby while we were installing it have already hit me hard in the heart. More installations to come.”

And after squinting hard at the shot below, I think I’ve worked out what this little girl’s immediate priorities are: “Before I die I want to eat all the candy…”. More images from the project at candychang.com.

UPDATE: Candy emailed us with update of what the girl finally wrote: “Before I die I want to eat all the candy and sushi in the world.” Brilliant.

Thanks to Kristina Kassem, Alan Williams, Cory Klemmer, Anamaria Vizcaino, James Reeves, Alex Vialou, Sean Knowlton, Carolina Caballero, and Gary Hustwit for installation assistance.


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  • Req

    Have been a fan of Candy Chang’s work for a while. Nice project.

  • http://www.woebot.com Matthew Ingram

    Very nice.

  • Grilla Login

    …eat nanas, mornin’, noon + nite

  • Scott Gibboney

    God loves Candy Chang and so do I.

  • http://www.thealternative.co.uk Gavin Martin

    What a great way to engage a community. Would love to see what people in my area would think/say.

  • Steve

    I love this, doesn’t it just make you smile, and the best bit about it is how it seems the local community has really got into it.

    amazing idea good work :)

  • Virginie Bennett

    What a good project!
    For me the answer is in a song, written not so long ago by a guy called john Lennon, who died too early…
    “Imagine”…
    Virginie Bennett

  • http://www.milnesdesign.com web design bedfordshire

    Love this. Inspiring, moving and touchingly honest.

    Just goes to show how so called ‘non creative’ people can enhance a piece of work.

    This piece has never more strongly illustrated that some design work is incomplete without an audience.

    Great work.

  • http://badinicreateam.blogspot.com/ badini createam

    superb idea and very effective, fun , popular and with interesting results

    Fantastic!

    ehm, before i die i want the immortality.

  • http://marc-lawrence-art.blogspot.com/ Marc

    this is a brilliantly simple way to interact with an audience and one which offers a community a fun and iinteresting way to think differently.
    m

  • Hali Olalemi

    This has been beautifully done
    Nice work

  • http://tinyurl.com/3veu965 Wilmer Gibboney

    Candy Chang must have a big heart.

  • Rolfian

    Just when I thought I’d come up with a good idea I find someone’s already done it – only much better.
    Brilliant.
    Rolfian.

  • http://www.mogeophotographic.com GEORGE VRANJKOVIC

    Great stuff

  • Natalia

    So touching… made my eyes well with tears! :)

  • Theresa

    What a wonderful IDEA!!

  • http://www.graphicdesignboss.com GraphicDesignBoss

    Really really cool! love reading about people’s hopes and dreams

    I’ve blogged (and tweaked it slightly) “Before I die I want to design…” http://bit.ly/gZ8y23

  • Jennifer Huddart

    Absolutely loved reading about this project. Beautiful. Although …. part of me couldn’t help looking for the immature answers (The scally opinions!) I’m from Manchester. End of. Ha! But I do wonder what kind of answers you would get from the community i’m in …. It wouldn’t be seen as an art installation, just something else to vandalise, It’s just so nice to see people using installations the way they’re supposed to be used! Well done Candy Chang :) *Thumbs up!*

  • Mark Sinclair

    Thanks for all the comments. Candy emailed earlier to let us know the rest of the sentence that the little girl is writing. It’s “Before I die I want to eat all the candy and sushi in the world.” Oh yes.

  • http://www.graphicdesignboss.com GraphicDesignBoss

    LOL Mark. That is priceless!

  • Q

    “Love this. Inspiring, moving and touchingly honest.”

    +1, totally agree. Great piece, and amazed that it hasn’t been vandalised. I can’t imagine anything else happening here. In a way I hope I’m wrong…

  • Jerry Williams

    Gladden the Heart that we as a people are alive.

    Jerry Williams

  • http://bluepigcreative.co.uk bluepigcreative

    Super work! What a great community project :-)

  • http://www.scandimatch.com david miller

    what a great idea! Full of heart!

  • Stacia

    Thank you for starting this project. It is very inspiring to me!

  • http://www.zibi.it/ zibi

    Amazing. Beautiful. A small idea for great though. See and live directly the reaction from resident and passerby is priceless. It’s wonderfull to see people using such installations just the way they’re supposed to be used! Awaiting for your next public installation Candy Chang.

  • Wendy

    This is so creative and inspiring. Thanks. I hope more of these pop up throughout the world.

  • http://www.framedink.com Framedink

    Such a simple but engaging ‘Public Art’ piece, the way it should be!
    It really annoys me when large phallic status symbols are erected which have no connection or meaning other than to say look at our hard on it cost 30k of tax payers money, now you better understand it and be proud of it as it is a symbol of your community and identity!
    With this you really start to understand how other people within your community think, have the same aspirations, dreams, worries and troubles in life!
    All neighbour hoods should have one…that would give The Coalition an idea about what makes The Big Society tick!

  • http://www.framedink.com Framedink

    Such a simple but engaging ‘Public Art’ piece, the way it should be!
    It really annoys me when large phallic status symbols are erected which have no connection or meaning other than to say look at our hard on it cost 30k of tax payers money, now you better understand it and be proud of it as it is a symbol of your community and identity!
    With this you really start to understand how other people within your community think, have the same aspirations, dreams, worries and troubles in life!
    All neighbour hoods should have one…that would give The Coalition an idea about what makes The Big Society tick!

  • http://onbrandcontent.com Juan Ignacio León y Castillo

    I was at the Whitney last week wondering where the hell is art going and how in the world is going to be revelevant to people because after seeing so many boring, dull and “just say how relevant to the world I´m” art instalations that mean nothing and comunicate very little one looses faith in art yet here cames Candy with a piece of chalk, thanks and BRAVO!!!!!

  • http://www.thinkupdesign.ca Andrew Sepic

    This is a wonderful piece. What an honest portrayal of what people really believe is important.
    Honest, inspiring, wonderful, sad and human.

  • http://www.jussrayspeaks.com Jussray

    This is pretty cool. I wonder what it would take to do the same thing in LA. Did she just go for it or what?

  • Lola Hinderson

    What a great idea!

  • http://Wayneconcepts.com Wayne hesler

    Would she mind people copying this inspiring idea into poor neighborhoods

  • http://www.realtorrentz.eu Emelie

    God loves Candy Chang and so do I.

  • http://www.profischnell.com Übersetzung

    A very nice idea a list “before i die” is very important for everybody.

  • http://www.profi-fachuebersetzung.de Übersetzung

    This is a wonderful piece. What an honest portrayal of what people really believe is important.
    Honest, inspiring, wonderful, sad and human.

  • http://www.profi-fachuebersetzungen.de Übersetzung Deutsch Englisch

    I was at the Whitney last week wondering where the hell is art going and how in the world is going to be revelevant to people because after seeing so many boring, dull and “just say how relevant to the world I´m” art instalations that mean nothing and comunicate very little one looses faith in art yet here cames Candy with a piece of chalk, thanks and BRAVO!!!!!

  • http://www.cengolio.com/uebersetzung-tuerkisch-deutsch Deutsch Türkisch

    Fantastic idea. Every hoods should have one.

  • http://nakedboyz.wordpress.com kunst blog

    Insperado! 😉
    Very good! Thank you for this!

  • http://www.thewhitestudios.de videoproduktion

    What a great idea!!!

  • http://www.nagelstudiohamburg.net nagelstudio

    very inspiring

  • http://www.cujocuri.com/ Jocuri

    Love this idea!
    Also is made me thinking …

  • Stefan

    Before I die i want to travel 1 month or more without money
    Before I die i want to know how it’s like to be rich
    Before I die i want to have kids
    Before I die i want to try as much sports as possbile

  • http://www.tradika.de Übersetzungsbüro Karlsruhe

    That is great, i want to visit this wall before i die :)

  • http://www.californiaworkerscompinsurance.com/ workman com insurance california

    Very supportive inforamation, good work guys keep it up!

  • http://www.tfk-production.com/ filmproduktion

    i am loving it! Those boards are awesome!

  • http://www.sprachendienst-24.de/ John Townsend

    May be we could get our names on the chalk board as well. Great