Before I die, what is important to you?

Before I die, what is important to you?

Candy Chang is a public installation artist, designer, urban planner, and co-founder of Civic Center who likes to make cities more comfortable for people.

This is one of her amazing projects involving renovation and integration of a community.



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 turns out this entire process (including obtaining official approval from many entities) has been a great lesson, experience, and project in itself – more on that later. If you’re in New Orleans, stop by the corner of Marigny and Burgundy (900 Marigny Street) to add your thoughts to the wall and see what matters most to your neighbors. 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. More installations to come. Huge thanks to Kristina Kassem, Alan Williams, Cory Klemmer, Anamaria Vizcaino, James Reeves, Alex Vialou, Sean Knowlton, Carolina Caballero, and Gary Hustwit for installation assistance and many others for support along the way! Concurrently installed in East/West Galleries. A project site is in the works.

Made with primer, chalkboard paint, stencils, spray paint, chalk, people. 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. 2011.

Update Feb 26, 2011:

Wow. Check out the 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 incredible – thank you! I have received many requests from people who’d like to install it in their city. I would love to spread the love, and we are looking into different ways to support and expand the project, including providing a large one-column stencil that would make it much easier to reproduce. We are also interested in visiting your city to install it together and learn more about the stories behind your buildings. If you’d like to spread the love to your city or if you have support suggestions or beyond, let us know!

Update March 16, 2011:

This out-of-pocket project now has a pocket thanks to the Black Rock Arts Foundation! It will make a huge 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

+ INFO: here

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