It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day life and forget what really matters to you. With help from friends and neighbors, I turned the side of an abandoned house in my neighborhood in New Orleans, into a giant chalkboard to invite people to share their dreams in public space.
Before I Die transformed a neglected space into a constructive one where we can learn the hopes and aspirations of the people around us. It’s a question that changed me over the last year after I lost someone I loved very much.
The reaction to the wall was more than I could have ever imagined. From the funny and creative to the thoughtful and heartbreaking, the responses have made me laugh out loud and also tear up. Stories from passersby hit me hard in the heart, and the worldwide response to this project has been incredible — thank you! Due to the enthusiastic response, we’ve created a Before I Die Toolkit with a stencil and guide to help you create a wall with your community. We’ve created limited edition paintings, and you can also submit your dreams online on the project website.
This is one experiment to try to make our neighborhoods more ours and remind us why we want to be alive in the world today. Together, I hope we can change the way our public spaces are designed to better reflect what is important to us as a community and as individuals.
Made with primer, chalkboard paint, stencils, spray paint, chalk. 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.
With generous installation assistance by Kristina Kassem, Alan Williams, Cory Klemmer, Anamaria Vizcaino, James Reeves, Alex Vialou, Sean Knowlton, Carolina Caballero, Earl Carlson, and Gary Hustwit. Concurrently installed in East/West Galleries.