You Bring the Dreams; We Bring the Chalk

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Two “Before I Die…” interactive projects to debut in Maine with the help of the Maine Center for Creativity’s newly formed Community Art Task Force.

The Maine Center for Creativity and its newly formed Community Art Task Force announced today the installation of the internationally acclaimed, interactive mural from Candy Chang, Before I Die..., at two locations in the greater Portland area this spring.

Chang’s Before I Die… “is … one of the most creative community projects ever,” says The Atlantic. The murals are approximately 40 feet wide by eight feet tall; painted with black chalkboard paint. Stenciled on the wall is the phrase “Before I Die I want to ______________” numerous times. Project sponsors prepare the wall and provide chalk;
inviting the general public to share their voice, thoughts, and inspiration. The result is a truly unique display reflecting the diversity of the individuals and their journeys.

The first Before I Die… project is exclusively for the South Portland High School senior class to reflect on high school and capture their aspirations for their future. The wall will be unveiled on May 20th from 6 to 7pm at the Art District Show in the South Portland Community Center.

The second Before I Die… project will launch on Friday, June 7th at 5pm, and continue through the end of June at Flatbread Company, 75 Commercial Street, near the Ferry Terminal. The public is invited to share their most intimate hopes and dreams on the side of the building by filling in the blank “Before I Die I want to_____________________."

The launch of the public wall will coincide with the Creative Communities Exchange Conference, hosted in Portland June 6th – 7th. At the end of June, the wall will be documented and added to the official Before I Die…. website at

Nela Alvarez-Sotomayor, a South Portland High School photography teacher, senior class advisor and member of the newly formed Community Art Task Force, is credited with bringing this project to Maine. “I’ve been reading so much about the project, researching it and watching the TED talk video of the artist, Candy Chang. I thought it would be a neat project that would not only reach my students, but help inspire our community.” Joining Nela in sponsoring the project are Maine Center for Creativity Board Member Greg Boulos, of CBRE|The Boulos Company, and Bobby Morgan, owner of Flatbread Company in Portland.

“Projects of this caliber can be daunting to launch. The Community Art Task Force was formed with just that end in mind, to assist in getting public art projects off the ground, regardless of where in Maine they are located,” said Boulos of the task force’s role.

About Maine Center for Creativity
The Maine Center for Creativity (MCC) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) led by a volunteer board of directors. Founded in May 2005, MCC is committed to nurturing innovative companies and people in Maine by developing projects and programs that support the growth of creative industries and the arts. Among its educational and creative projects, MCC is organizing Art All Around™, an international design competition to paint the Sprague Energy tanks in South Portland, the Creative Toolbox Series, Pecha Kucha events in Maine; and the newly formed Community Art Task Force. For more information, please visit

About Candy Chang and the Before I Die Project
Candy Chang is an artist who is passionate about public space and personal well-being. By combining public art with activism and introspection, she has been recognized for her projects to help improve our communities and ourselves. She is a TED Senior Fellow, a Tulane Urban Innovation Fellow, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and was named a “Live Your Best Life” Local Hero by Oprah Magazine. She received a BS in Architecture, a BFA in Graphic Design, and a Masters in Urban Planning from Columbia University.

Before I Die… is an interactive public art project that invites people to share their hopes and dreams in public space. After artist and urban planner Candy Chang lost someone she loved very much, she painted the wall of an abandoned house in her neighborhood in New Orleans with chalkboard paint and stenciled it with a grid of the sentence “Before I die I want to ______.” Passersby can use chalk to write directly on the wall. The project has since spread worldwide and walls have been created by communities in Mexico, the Netherlands, Australia, Kazakhstan, and beyond. The project is about remembering what is important to you, creating a public space for
contemplation, and re-imagining how our public spaces can better reflect what matters to us as a community and as individuals. For more about Candy Chang


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Linda Varrell
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