Before I Die
What is important to you?
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, I turned the side of an abandoned house in my neighborhood into a giant chalkboard to invite people to share what is important to them. Before I Die transforms a neglected space into a constructive one where we can learn the hopes and aspirations of the people around us. It’s a question that changed me over the last year after I lost someone I loved very much. I also believe the design of our public spaces can better reflect what’s important to us as residents and as human beings. The responses and stories from passersby while we were installing it have already hit me hard in the heart. I’ve received an incredible response to this project (thank you!) and many things are in development including a kit with a large, one-column mylar stencil and how-to guide to make it easy to produce a wall with your community (fill out this form if you want to be notified when it’s ready). We’ve created limited edition paintings to help support the project. You can also submit your dreams online on the project website. More updates below!
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. February 2011 (with more to come!) If you are a publication and would like a press kit with high-res photos, contact us.
With generous installation assistance by 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.
The word on the street: Wired, Brain Pickings, GOOD, Post Secret, Times Picayune, Wooster Collective, WeTheUrban, Design Milk, Creative Review, Life and Times, HOW, Juxtapoz Magazine, The Atlantic, and many more. Read more about the project in an interview with Juxtapoz Magazine.
Update Feb 26, 2011 – Wow. Check out the completely-filled wall of responses after one day! Photo strip here.
Update March 6, 2011 - And after three days:
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. The response to this project has been more than I could have ever imagined – thank you! I have received many requests from people who’d like to make one in their city, so we are currently working on providing a kit with a how-to guide and large mylar one-column stencil that will make it easier to produce the wall and understand the process. This should be ready around August 2011 – fill out this form if you want to be notified when it’s ready.
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.
Update April 2, 2011: Every day blown away by all the thoughtful, creative, funny, and heartbreaking responses. One day after washing it again:
Update April 5, 2011: Time to evaporate into the light… I knew that this project would come to an end on this house in my neighborhood at some point, and I couldn’t ask for a better way. Someone bought the house and, to comply with city regulations on blight, must begin renovations soon. For the record, they are fans of the project and have done everything they can to let it ride before turning this building into a home again after years of collecting dust. So if you’d like to see and share on the wall, I encourage you to come before Sunday April 10th. Its life is tenuous after that. But this isn’t the end. It will rise again in another place in New Orleans. Thank you for all the love for this project! I’m blown away by the responses on the wall and beyond, and the project will continue to expand to other cities and grow for years to come. We are currently working on providing a kit with a how-to guide and large one-column stencil that will make it easier to reproduce and understand the process. We’ll let you know when it’s ready (around July 2011). A project site is also in the works where everyone can share their hopes and dreams from all the corners of the world. And I’m very happy that this house will become a home again.
Update May 5, 2011: The wall still lives! The new owners’ renovations have been delayed. In the meanwhile, we have their permission to continue with the project. So do stop by the corner of Marigny and Burgundy if you’d like to enjoy it in person. And add your own dreams online too.
Update June 7, 2011: The wall is still alive and kicking!
We receive hundreds of messages each day and we try our best to answer them while still continuing to make projects and maintain our own well-being. If you have questions about making a Before I Die wall, please use this form on the project site and we will keep you posted on project developments. Thank you and we appreciate your support!
Update June 15, 2011: I made mini Before I Die walls in Russian, Kazakh, and English with students in Almaty, Kazakhstan – check out the photos!
Update July 6, 2011: Help support the project and purchase a Before I Die limited edition painting! More here. The DIY kit is in the works…
Before I Die « Candy Chang