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'Before I Die..' Chicago Art Installations Expand To More Neighborhoods (PHOTOS)

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 05/04/2012 2:36 pm Updated: 05/04/2012 4:15 pm

Before I Die Chicago Public Art

In the weeks since New Orleans artist Candy Chang's "Before I Die" interactive public art installation made its Chicago debut earlier this year on the city's North Side, the project has expanded via several newly installed walls.

"Before I Die" walls have been installed in recent weeks in Chicago's Pilsen, Little Village and Lakeview neighborhoods, stirring up excitement with each new installation.

(Scroll down to view photos from the new installations and click here to see photos from the Edgewater wall. Embedded above is a video from the installation of the Pilsen wall.)

Good News Only and the Chicago Urban Art Society have partnered to install the Chicago walls, which consist simply of a giant, black chalkboard stenciled with the sentence “Before I die I want to _____." Observers are encouraged to fill in that blank by sharing their hopes and dreams.

Lauren Pacheco, CUAS executive director, told HuffPost that residents have embraced the concept in the communities where they have been installed. So much so, in fact, that Chang plans to include the Chicago installations in an upcoming "Before I Die" retrospective.

"Many [residents] voice their excitement watching the chalkboard grow and evolve into something almost billboard style. A larger public message platform really," Pacheco said.

Still, the organizers have run into some snags: The wall installed near the intersection of 18th and Carpenter in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood had to be removed earlier then planned due to several instances of vandalism, but Pacheco noted that interest in other wall installation sites remains high.

"Of course you have some knuckleheads that take the interactive element to extremes and publicly insert vulgarities," Pacheco said, adding that she was thankful to individuals who have helped replace chalk at the installations or helped to wash them down.

And most of the contributions are positive. Some participants wrote that they wanted to "change someone's life," "forgive + forget" and "write a book + fall in love." Others wished to one day "have health insurance," "pay my student loans" or "sell a lot of art." Chicagoans are also encouraged to participate in the project by tweeting their wishes and desires with the hash tag #BeforeIDieCHI.

"Before I Die" walls have previously been installed in North American cities including Brooklyn, Montreal and San Diego, as well as international cities including London, Melbourne, Lisbon and others. The project also is slated for a Denver debut on Friday.

All photos of Chicago's "Before I Die" walls appear courtesy of Good News Only and the Chicago Urban Art Society.

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  • At the Pilsen installation.

  • The Pilsen installation, looking full.

  • Alderman Danny Solis contributes to the Pilsen installation.

  • Contributing to the then-new Pilsen installation.

  • The Pilsen installation.

  • The installation in Chicago's Little Village.

  • The installation goes up on the Lillstreet Art Center in the city's Ravenswood neighborhood.

  • The Lillstreet Art Center installation in the city's Ravenswood neighborhood.

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