‘Before I Die…’ Community Art Project in Downtown Beloit

Before I Die Art Board ImageBeloit Regional Hospice and Beloit Health System Palliative Care are so pleased to have partnered with Project 16:49’s Katie Lentes, an AmeriCorp member, to bring this creative community art experience to Beloit.  The board is currently on display at Bushel & Peck’s in downtown Beloit.  The display board will also be available at Music and More at Harry’s Place on Friday, June 17th.

The concept for the Before I Die chalkboard wall, originally created by University of Columbia graduate Candy Chang, is to explore how public space can cultivate self-examination and empathy among neighbors and compassionately prepare us for death and grief.

This participatory art project invites people to contemplate death, reflect on life, and share their personal aspirations in public. After losing someone she loved, Chang channeled her grief and depression into this project.  She covered an abandoned, crumbling house in her New Orleans neighborhood with chalkboard paint and stenciled it with the prompt, “Before I die I want to _____.” The wall quickly filled up with responses, from the poetic to the profound: Before I die I want to… see my daughter graduate, abandon all insecurities, get my wife back, eat all the candy and sushi in the world, be a Youtube sensation, straddle the International Date Line, tell my mother I love her, be completely myself.

Lentes, a recent graduate of Beloit College and the “House Mother” of Project 16:49’s Robin House is also a volunteer at Beloit Regional Hospice.  Lentes wanted to create a project that could bring attention to both hospice and end of life concerns, as well as personal goal setting for our community.  She worked with her friend, Beloit College chemistry student Timon Wolf Mueller to create the chalkboard and bring this project to the Beloit community.  The board will periodically be photographed and then washed- which will allow documentation of responses-and the opportunity for more!

I think this is a really great project for both Beloit Regional Hospice and Project 16:49 because it connects to both organizations in different ways. It gets people thinking about end of life as well as setting personal goals, which is a big piece of what we do with the youth at Project 16:49,” said Lentes.

We encourage you to stop by Bushel & Peck’s or Music & More on the 17th to jot down your thoughts, or just read and be inspired by the thoughtful words.  It is a wonderful opportunity for fellow community members to join in our mission of supporting the spirit of life!