“Before I die …” project breathes life into Brooklyn

A New York art project allowing passersby to fill in their own endings to the sentence “Before I die…” is scheduled to be taken down tomorrow.

The giant chalkboard project, erected on the wall of a future Shake Shack, was created by artist Candy Chang. Using stencils and spray paint, she established a half-block stretch of plywood with baskets of chalk to gather the dreams and aspirations of the Brooklyn community. Theresa Mullen, a Shake Shack spokeswoman, said the company constructed the project late Oct. 9. By the next morning, it was already overflowing with responses.

“This project helps you see a little bit of the hopes and dreams of the people around you,” Chang said to The Brooklyn Paper. “It’s about snapping out of it and remembering why you want to be alive in the world today.”

From the funny and creative to the heartbreaking and thoughtful, the responses were numerous: Before I die I want to … be tried for piracy, save a life, end animal cruelty, cook a soufflé, evaporate into light, hold her one more time, f–k Beyonce.

Chang’s first “Before I Die” project was created on the wall of a boarded up house in her neighborhood of New Orleans. According to Nola.com, the mural was not considered graffiti because Chang had permission to paint from both the property owner and city agencies. This art project was a huge success and expanded to other cities including Amsterdam, Portsmouth, Querétaro, Almaty and San Diego.

The projects have been featured in The Atlantic and The Oprah Magazine, in which the latter wrote,  Through a series of large-scale projects that combine installation art with social activism, Chang has encouraged people to engage with public spaces to let their voices be heard.”