Candy Chang’s anticipated Before I Die book is being released today by St. Martin’s press. The project began when she painted the side of an abandoned house in her Marigny neighborhood in New Orleans with chalkboard paint and stenciled it with a grid of the sentence “Before I die I want to _______.” Anyone walking by could pick up a piece of chalk, reflect on their lives, and share their personal aspirations in public space. Since then, hundreds of walls have been reproduced around the world for people to share their most basic and essential hopes and dreams. We asked Candy to talk about some of her favorite responses out of the thousands that can now be found in her new book. Check out her launch party and be a part of the new wall installation at the Ogden museum this Thursday at 6PM. But for now, check out Candy’s Top 10 favorite responses to her Before I Die project, and why these are the ones that stuck.
1. Before I die I want to be completely myself. (New Orleans, LA, USA)
This was one of the first responses on the first Before I Die wall and it has stayed with me ever since. I hope to become more aware of who I am and what feels right for me as I grow and change.
The original Before I Die Wall in the Marigny
What began one wall in New Orleans soon became a global phenomenon…
2. Before I die I want to stare at the stars with the people I love. (Pohang City, South Korea)
I find big comfort in watching Cosmos by Carl Sagan and looking at the stars. It always pulls me back to my center and reminds me of my place in the universe.
The Before I Die wall in Pohang City, South Korea
3. Before I die I want to be a stripper and a nun at the same time. (Santiago, Chile)
We’re complex people.
The Before I Die wall in Santiago
4. Before I die I want to see where my grandma grew up. (Townsville, Australia)
My parents immigrated from Taiwan to the U.S. so I lived far away from my grandparents. When I visited their homes in Taiwan, it was a profound experience. I’m still comprehending how different our lives have been across three generations.
The Before I Die wall in Townsville, Australia
5. Before I die I want to have my own theme song. (Johannesburg, South Africa)
Music plays a big part in my life and helps set my aspirational mood. Certain songs have definitely become soundtracks for particular periods in my life.
The Before I Die wall in Johannesburg, South Africa
6. Before I die I want to overcome depression. (Newport News, VA, USA)
I’ve gone through dark periods of depression and despair. It’s comforting to know you’re not alone and there is hope.
The Before I Die wall in Newport News, Virginia
7. Before I die I want to create a typeface of my own. (Almaty, Kazakhstan)
I am a design nerd and admire this design nerd’s dream.
The Before I Die wall in Almaty, Kazakhstan
8. Before I die I want to bring peace of mind to my mom. (Brooklyn, NY, USA)
I wonder about the story behind this person’s response. It sounds so heartbreaking.
The Before I Die wall in Brooklyn, near the Shake Shack
9. Before I die I want to have a big garden with flowers in bloom. (Chung-Li, Taiwan)
I just renovated my home in New Orleans and aspire to turn my balcony into a leafy wonderland.
The Before I Die wall in Jungli, Taiwan
10. Before I die I want to stop being afraid. (Jerusalem, Israel)
The Jungian analyst James Hollis once said, “In the end, we are only tiny frightened animals, doing our best to survive amid other tiny frightened animals.” That always makes me feel better.
The Before I Die wall in Jerusalem