Before I die…

Here’s a series of photo’s of a street art project I did in Norwich as part of Celebrate, a city wide church run event. I am truly humbled by the overwhelming response to this art project. Over two days literally hundreds of people took part. Each one with a story of hopes and dreams, disappointments and heart-ache.  

I have sought to capture the process of preparation to instigation of the art project through these pictures:

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The original idea for ‘Before I die’ is from an U.S based artist called Candy Chan. The before I die creators write:  

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget what really matters to you. When Candy lost someone she loved very much, the experience helped clarify her life but she struggled to maintain perspective. With help from old and new friends, she turned the side of an abandoned house in her neighborhood in New Orleans into a giant chalkboard and stenciled it with the sentence “Before I die I want to _______”, so people can write on the wall and remember what is important to them. Before I Die is a public art project that invites people to reflect on their lives and share their personal aspirations in public space. The wall transformed a neglected space into a constructive one where we can restore perspective in our daily lives and understand our neighbors in new and enlightening ways. It’s also about remembering you’re not alone.

Before I die I want to… sing for millions, see my daughter graduate, straddle the International Date Line, see the leaves change many times, be someone’s cavalry, live off the grid, help numerous children, hold her one more time, abandon all insecurities, be completely myself…  The wall was entirely filled out after one day and it kept going from there. It was featured on NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams, and The Atlantic called it “one of the most creative community projects ever.”

After receiving many requests from people around the world, she and her Civic Center colleagues created the project website beforeidie.cc and a Before I Die Toolkit to help people make a wall with their community. Thanks to passionate people around the world, the project has expanded to South Africa, the Netherlands, Mexico, Australia, Portugal, Kazakhstan, and beyond. Taken together, the Before I Die project offers a public space for contemplation and a snapshot of the values our neighbors hold dear. The project is growing every day and together we can make public spaces that better reflect what matters to us as a community and as individuals.

Kristina Kassem

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