Reynolds Reno ASNE Reynolds HSJ Institute at the University of Nevada-Reno Reno, NV
Issue Date: Thursday, July 19, 2012 Issue: Volume 6, Issue 1 Last Update: Friday, August 17, 2012
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At-a-glance

Sydney Ducasse (left) and Andy Hernandez add their life goals to Reno's Before I Die blackboard. The board, part of public artist Candy Chang's worldwide public art project, has been hanging near the Riverwalk since early May. - Claire Burke
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Quick, close your eyes for a moment and think about the story of your life. Everything up to this moment: school, career, relationships, kids. Now, think about the one thing that you still have left to tick off of your life’s to-do list.

This is exactly what Reno residents have been prompted to do in the past two months. In early May, public artist Candy Chang, in association with the local non-profit Black Rock Arts Foundation, brought her “Before I Die” project to town. The project, which Chang started in New Orleans in 2011 after losing a close friend, is an interactive public art display that allows residents to share their life goals and aspirations.

The project consists of two large blackboards, each approximately 40 feet long and eight feet tall. The boards are stenciled with the simple prompt, “Before I die I want to ____________.” Brightly-colored chalk allows the public to anonymously write their responses.

Many residents have used the project to post their innermost thoughts for all to see.

“I wrote ‘Marry Christian’ because...our future is kind of bouncing up and down right now,” Fernley, Nev., resident Andy Hernandez said of her relationship with her on-again, off-again boyfriend.

Hernandez’s friend and Reno resident Sydney Ducasse chose to share her similarly intimate life goal.

“I wrote ‘Save Lives’ because I want to become a doctor,” Ducasse said.

Hernandez and Ducasse, as local contributors to the Reno board, illustrate exactly what creator Chang’s goal for the project was. 

In the press kit for her project, Chang said that in installing Before I Die boards in cities across the world, she wanted to bring neighbors together to pass along wisdom that would normally be lost in the shuffle of day-to-day life.

She also said that she would like to encourage the public to take a step back and really appreciate their lives by forcing them to think about their deaths. Maintaining a clear perspective on death really clarifies life, Chang said in the press kit.

This sentiment was very much reflected in Hernandez’s response.

“What I want to do before I die is basically marry [Christian] because I’ve never had such a great person to be with in my entire life,” she said.

Ducasse echoed the value of her life’s aspirations.

“[Saving lives] just seems really important,” she said. “I just want to feel like a hero.”


Back to the articles list
 
  • Reno's Before I Die blackboard hangs near the city's Riverwalk, between S. Virginia and S. Sierra streets.
    By Claire Burke
  • Ducasse's (above) and Hernandez's life goals are displayed for all to see on Reno's Before I Die blackboard.
    By Claire Burke
  • Andy Hernandez and Sydney Ducasse make their contributions to Reno's Before I Die blackboard.
    By Claire Burke

3 COMMENTS - add your comment below
7/20/2012 1:22:58 PM by Rick Cole    
Good story Claire! You create interest and definitely pique my curiosity. You also make me think about what I would like to accomplish in life - a most profound notion. The pictures are a great addition. The only things I could suggest to strengthen the piece would be more close-up photos of specific writings and more interviews with those who have written something. Keep up the good work!
7/20/2012 1:22:52 PM by Gary    
Claire, I especially love the photography, especially the shadows. I am going to try to find this wall tonight.
7/20/2012 1:10:09 PM by Carrie    
Story turned out great. Cool pics too. Glad you did this so I could see it even thought I never got to it in person.
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