before i die, i want to…
Before I die, I want to….
How would you complete this statement?
This was a fill-in-the-blank that Candy Chang, artist and urban planner, poised to her community in New Orleans on the side of a decrepit building, using chalkboard paint and supplying chalk. Her motive was to improve blight in her neighborhood, reach out to her neighbors, and help heal herself after loosing a close friend. The wall was full in a day, the answers ranging from the hysterical to the tear inducing.
Chang is known for artwork and projects that blend public space and the intimacy of what it means to be human. She and the organization that she co-founded, Civic Center, searches for environments and public spaces that need uplifting and then supplies tools to spark conversations among strangers. The projects weave mosaics of individual voices, people coming together to create something larger, and neglected spaces become constructive ones that generate hope, inspiration, and love. A list of intriguing projects can be viewed here: http://civiccenter.cc.
I watched the video of Chang’s 2012 Ted talk this past weekend at TedX Jackson Hole, an inspiring evening of local individuals making a difference intermingled with videos of noteworthy talks from around the world. Chang’s raw and poignant speech only intensified my brains rambling of how seemingly simple acts can generate valuable social and community dialogue and collaboration.
Where could we see such a wall in our community? Would there be value in having such a space to relay messages, hopes, and dreams to one another? What is the value of poising such a question openly or any question of that magnitude? For Chang, time and relationships are two of the most valuable things we possess as beings on this earth. The Before I Die project inspired other walls all over the world, from Australia to Argentina, bringing people together not only communally but also globally. Chang has artistically brought the subject of death into public arenas to help her and others clarify life, creating a project that brings awareness to the preciousness of life and the common bond between us all.
Would there be value in having such a space to relay messages, hopes, and dreams to one another?
- Alissa Davies