TED Senior Fellow & Urban Space Artist and Designer
Through the activation of public spaces around the world, Candy Chang provokes both playful and profound visions for how we can connect, reflect, and nurture the health of our communities. Chang is best known for the Before I Die project, which began when she stenciled the words “Before I die I want to _______” on a chalkboard wall on an abandoned house in New Orleans after losing someone she loved. The participatory project has since grown into a global phenomenon and today there are over 1,000 Before I Die walls in over 70 countries, including Iraq, China, Brazil, Kazakhstan, and South Africa. The Before I Die project and subsequent book, which features walls around the world and insights into our aspirations, have been featured on CNN, NBC, TED, AP News, and Wired.
A TED Senior Fellow, Urban Innovation Fellow, and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, Chang has also created installations for people to share their hopes for vacant storefronts, a confessional sanctuary in a Las Vegas casino, designated sites for crying in Hong Kong, and a civic tool called Neighborland.com for people to collaborate on the future of their communities. Her work has been exhibited in the Venice Architecture Biennale, New Museum, and Tate Modern. She was also named one of the Top 100 Leaders in Public Interest Design by Impact Design Hub and a “Live Your Best Life” Local Hero by Oprah Magazine.
Toward Better Public Spaces: Transforming Our Cities Through Art and Design
Combining urban planning, street art, and graphic design, Candy Chang transforms simple objects like stickers, stencils, and chalkboards into powerful tools that spark conversations in public spaces around the world. In her talks, she poses new strategies for civic life and inspires you to think differently about how you approach your own work. Through personal stories from her childhood to the present, she illustrates how seemingly disparate experiences in countries from Kazakhstan to South Africa to Finland have come together to incite new perspectives and form a coherent philosophy. Carefully crafted for each audience and cultivated from her own evolving questions, Chang's provocative and intimate talks explore the power of personal introspection in public space and what we can learn from our collective wisdom.
Making Space for Creativity and Innovation
A small seed of an idea can be the source of dramatic innovation. When Candy Chang stencilled the phrase "Before I die I want to_____" onto a derelict house in New Orleans, she invited anyone and everyone to participate. It was a simple act. And with it, she unleashed the latent creativity amongst the thousands of people who have taken part. The international success of her public art installations forged her reputation as someone who understood that, many times, the best ideas are communal ideas. Drawing on her body of work, Chang discusses the small acts and levers that have encouraged people to participate, to think differently. Public spaces can enable both self-realization and cooperative creativity. These lessons, slowly, have been absorbed by community organizations, educational groups, even companies of every size. Innovation, Chang says, can come from unlikely places. So it's important to create, as she has, the kinds of safe and engaging environments that allow ideas to flourish.
Before I Die
Available November 5, 2013
What do you want to do before you die?
When artist Candy Chang painted the side of an abandoned building with chalkboard paint and asked her neighbors this question, she never expected it to become a worldwide phenomenon. Within a day of the wall’s completion, however, it was covered in colorful chalk dreams as people stopped and reflected on their lives. Since then, more than two hundred walls have been created by people all over the world. This beautifully designed book is an inspiring celebration of these walls. Filled with our hopes, fears, humor, and heartbreak, it’s a reminder of our shared connections and a chance to ponder life’s ultimate question.
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