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“Before I Die…” Artist Candy Chang to Speak at Drexel

Chang created a "Before I die…" art installation on an 80-foot wall surrounding the construction site of the former University City High School. Photo credit: C. Shan Cerrone.

April 02, 2015

Taiwanese-American artist Candy Chang challenges the conventional perception of public space and the role it can play in our evolving needs as a community and as individuals. 

Chang is renowned for interactive public installations that provoke civic engagement and emotional introspection. Photo credit: C. Shan Cerrone.
Chang is renowned for interactive public installations that provoke civic engagement and emotional introspection. Photo credit: C. Shan Cerrone.

Renowned for interactive public installations that provoke civic engagement and emotional introspection, her work has examined issues from criminal justice and the future of vacant buildings to personal aspirations and anxieties.

On Thursday, April 30 from 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m., Chang will speak on the topic of “Better Cities: Transforming Public Spaces Through Art & Design” at Drexel University’s Mandell Theater (33rd and Chestnut Streets) as the fifth lecturer in College of Arts and Sciences’ annual Distinguished Lecture Series. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are required and are now available online.

Chang joins acclaimed author Sir Salman Rushdie, media maven Arianna Huffington, neuroscientist David Eagleman and religion scholar and author Reza Aslan on the growing list of accomplished distinguished lecturers.

Drexel and surrounding community members have been invited to share their personal wishes on the wall. Photo credit: C. Shan Cerrone.
Drexel and surrounding community members have been invited to share their personal wishes on the wall. Photo credit: C. Shan Cerrone.
 

Chang is perhaps best known for her “Before I die” walls, called “one of the most creative community projects ever” by The Atlantic. After losing someone she loved, Chang painted the side of an abandoned house in her neighborhood in New Orleans with chalkboard paint and stenciled the sentence, “Before I die I want to _____.” Within a day of the wall’s completion, it was covered in chalk dreams as neighbors stopped and reflected on their lives.

Photographs of the wall spread online, and since the original wall in 2011, more than 500 “Before I die” walls have been created in more than 70 countries and 30 languages by passionate people around the world. Chang compiled photos of and stories behind these public walls in a hardcover book, which Publishers Weekly calls, “a powerful and valuable reminder that life is for the living, and it’s never too late, or too early, to join the party.”

In anticipation of her visit, Chang created a "Before I die…" art installation on an 80-foot wall surrounding the construction site of the former University City High School in Powelton Village. The Drexel community has been invited to share their personal wishes on the wall, which will be removed after the lecture.

Philly now has one of over 500 "Before I die" walls that have been installed in over 30 languages in over 70 countries. Photo credit: C. Shan Cerrone.
Philly now has one of over 500 "Before I die" walls that have been installed in over 30 languages in over 70 countries. Photo credit: C. Shan Cerrone.
 

Chang’s other projects include a vacant high-rise pleading for love, a confessional sanctuary in a Las Vegas casino and a site-specific fable in an abandoned apartment.

Her work has been exhibited in the Venice Architecture Biennale, the New Museum, New York; Tate Modern, London; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans; the Lisbon Architecture Triennale; and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York. She is a recipient of the TED Senior Fellowship, the Tulane University Urban Innovation Fellowship, the Art Production Fund Artist Residency and a Black Rock Arts Foundation grant.

Chang received a bachelor’s degree in architecture and a bachelor of fine arts degree in graphic design from the University of Michigan, and a master’s degree in urban planning from Columbia University. She lives in New Orleans.

For more information on Chang’s public art installation at Drexel, visit DrexelNow.

Media Contact

Alex McKechnie
news@drexel.edu
215-895-2705