Candy Chang’s “Before I Die”Candy Chang’s “Before I Die”Candy Chang’s “Before I Die”

Candy Chang’s “Before I Die”

“Before I Die is a participatory public art project that invites people to contemplate death, reflect on life, and share their personal aspirations in public.”

Tell me more: After losing someone she loved, artist Candy Chang created an interactive wall on an abandoned house in her neighborhood to create an anonymous place to connect with her community. After receiving permission, she painted the wall with chalkboard paint and stenciled it with a grid of the sentence, “Before I die I want to _______.” Anyone walking by could pick up a piece of chalk, reflect on their lives, and share their personal aspirations in public space.

By the next day, the wall was full of responses and it kept growing: Before I die I want to… sing for millions, plant a tree, hold her one more time, straddle the International Date Line, see my daughter graduate, eat more everything, abandon all insecurities, be completely myself. She understood her neighbors in new and enlightening ways, and the wall reminded her that she’s not alone as she tries to make sense of her life.

Classroom applications: We use the “Before I die I want to” prompt and photos to spark short and long-term goal-setting, to get to know each other in new ways, and to witness our collective hopes. We’ve changed the prompt for educators – “Before I leave the classroom I want to” – and have seen “Before I graduate I want to” stenciled on classroom walls.

Going further: