Artist and designer Candy Chang wanted people to remember what was important in life, so she took an abandoned building in her New Orleans neighborhood and turned it into a public art project called “Before I Die“. She painted the walls with chalkboard paint, and stenciled in the phrase “Before I die, I want to _______.” Then all that was left was to leave behind some chalk and wait for the public.

The public response was amazingly abundant, even after only a single day, so after all the blanks are filled, Candy Chang takes a photograph to document the wishes, some of which will be placed in a book commemorating the piece. Then the chalkboard wall gets washed for more writers to come and fill it in, and so on. From her website:

One month and seven hours of intense stenciling later and it’s up! With a lot of support from old and new friends, I turned the side of an abandoned house in my neighborhood into a giant chalkboard where residents can write on the wall and remember what is important to them. Before I Die transforms neglected spaces into constructive ones where we can learn the hopes and aspirations of the people around us.

It’s a question that has changed me in the last year, and I 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.

Check out the before and after of the house, what a change:

The project brings out so many idiosyncrasies and heartwarming statements from strangers. Some of my favorites that I’ve spotted:

“Before I die I want to beat sense into you.”
“Before I die I want to see a moose.”
“Before I die I want to hug a sloth.”

Do you spot any particular favorites on here?

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