The word that comes to my mind when I think of Candy Chang is inspirational. When I look through her projects I kind of get overwhelmed with a reinvigorated passion, joy and appreciation. All this from tiny pictures on the internet. If I were to come across one of her projects in daily life I probably would never shut up about “this cool thing” I saw on the street.
Candy Chang is an artist, designer and urban planner (BFA in Graphic Design, BS in Architecture and Masters in Urban Planning). Most of her projects center on public space, facilitating a bottom up voice for the community. She has received lots of recognition for her work (including from the almighty Oprah), which is more than well deserved. While there are many, many projects, I’ve selected 3 to show on DD in a 3-part post: Before I Die, Sidewalk Psychiatry, and I Wish This Was.
This public art project turns the side of an abandoned house in the heart of a New Orleans neighborhood into a hub for community expression. Giant chalk boards were placed on one side of the house and the community was encouraged to finish the phrase “Before I die…”
The wall became an enlightening way to get to know your neighbors and discover the hopes and aspirations of the people around you. It’s about improving our physical spaces and our personal well-being. It’s a question that changed Candy after she lost someone she loved very much, and she believes the design of our public spaces can better reflect what matters to us as a community and as individuals.
With the direction of development, the abandonment of city centers and an emphasis on suburbs, it’s refreshing to come across such a simple public space project that has such a large complex affect on a community. It takes advantage of the old neighborhood layout that would normally foster a strong sense of community if only it was filled with people, and turns a negative space into a possitive community hub.
The responses have ranged from the funny and creative to the thoughtful and heartbreaking: Before I die I want to… sing for millions, see my daughter graduate, eat a salad with an alien, see the leaves change many times, be someone’s cavalry, straddle the International Date Line, cook a souffle, hold her one more time, make it in the hip hop, help numerous children, see what I’m like as an old man, tell my mother I love her, make peace with Ohio, abandon all insecurities, be completely myself, evaporate into the light…