By Kelly Harris
After losing someone she loved, artist Candy Chang painted the side of an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighborhood with chalkboard paint and stenciled the sentence, “Before I die I want to____.” Instantly colorful chalk dreams from neighbors who stopped to reflect on their lives filled the side of the home. Since then, more than 425 Before I Die walls have been created in over 60 countries and over 25 languages.
Candy Chang’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan and lived in several southern cities. Candy and her family return to Taiwan every few years. She enjoys Taipei for a lot of reasons she loves New Orleans—it’s a sweaty city bursting with flavor. “New Orleans has a special cadence and mashup all its own. It’s stimulating and it’s incubating, which helps me do some of my best reflecting and making. There’s always something odd and wonderful happening in my neighborhood that reminds me to enjoy life while it lasts,” says Candy.
Some of Candy’s favorite New Orleans responses are below:
Before I die I want to sing for millions.
Before I die I want to plant a tree.
Before I die I want to abandon all insecurities.
Before I die I want to get my wife back.
Before I die I want to eat all the candy and sushi in the world.
Before I die I want to see my son and daughter come back from Afghanistan.
Before I die I want to straddle the International Date Line.
Before I die I want to hold her one more time.
Before I die I want to evaporate into the light.
Before I die I want to be completely myself.
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