Back in 2011, we first wrote about Candy Chang’s powerful interactive art project “Before I Die” where she painted a side of an abandoned house in her neighborhood of New Orleans with chalkboard paint and then stenciled in the words, “Before I die I want to ___.” Anyone who happened to pass by could share their deepest and most personal thoughts.
Then, this happened. “It was all an experiment and she didn’t know what to expect,” her website states. “By the next day, the wall was completely filled out and it kept growing: Before I die I want to… sing for millions, hold her one more time, straddle the International Date Line, see my daughter graduate, eat more everything, abandon all insecurities, plant a tree, follow my childhood dream, be completely myself… People’s responses made her laugh out loud and tear up. They consoled her during her toughest times. 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.”
Fast forward a few years and you could say that this project took on a life of its own. Currently, over 350 “Before I Die” walls have been created in over 60 countries and in over 25 languages. A new book, coming out November 5 by St. Martin’s Press (the same publisher who brought you Humans of New York), chronicles Chang’s journey and shows many of the different places in the world that have “Before I Die” walls. To help celebrate the book launch, an “International Day of Walls” event will happen on November 5 that will bring together even more people from cities worldwide who will put up their own interactive art wall.
Now, courtesy of St. Martin’s Press, here’s a sneak peek of Before I Die, the book.