While running a few errands in Downtown Brooklyn, I spied a public art project. The project is a recreation of award-winning artist, Candy Chang’s – “Before I die I want to _____” project (BID). In March, 2011, the TED Fellow recipient put a chalkboard on the side of a decaying house in New Orleans. Neighbors were encouraged to fill in the blank of the phrase and write it on the chalkboard wall. The aim was to turn a “neglected space into a constructive one” and to help improve the neighborhood and the personal well-being of her neighbors. Click here to visit her website and read about her work.
I think this is an excellent example of public art at its best. It’s site/community specific, it’s interactive and engages the people using the space and it reacts to the environment/elements. The Brooklyn wall is located at the Fulton Mall; a rather humble shopping district, popular with the Black and Hispanic residents in the area. In this instance the walls aren’t surrounding an example of urban decay, but rather an example of urban redevelopment. The walls surround a construction site, one of the many construction sites in this part of Brooklyn. Despite the worrisome economy, this area is experiencing an upturn that holds a promise of improved circumstances for the entire community. I pray that the promise manifests its self in the lives of all the members of the community; longtime residents and the newly transplanted.
Reading the wall was like taking the pulse of my neighborhood. It was interesting to see how people handled the statement. The declarations on the walls were poetic, prosaic, and profane. Some people shared their grand dreams and others expressed dreams that I think middle America or the Middle Class would view as modest; because in their world these things are “a given” – Before I die I want to… “see my daughter go to college”;“own my own home”; “see justice for all”.
Of course I tagged the wall, but I’ll be keeping those dreams to myself; for fear, if spoken out loud – the dreams won’t materialize; just like I’m secretive about the wishes sent aloft when I blow out the candles on my birthday cake; my wishes written on the wall were sent upward when I blew the chalk dust from my fingertips.
- Chalkboard Walls Make It Easy To Be Creative (newenglandsnarrowroad.wordpress.com)
- Shake Shack in Brooklyn, New York, adds public art installation to their menu (gadling.com)