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Creating Connection with Shared Public Spaces

candy_chang_04“Lose the ego.” “Integrity.” “Pay attention to detail.” These are the some of the phrases REALTORS® wrote on the chalkboard wall outside the Morial convention center’s La Nouvelle Ballroom at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo to complete the sentence “Professionalism means ____________.”

The concept is the brainchild of Candy Chang, an artist at the intersection of public space and personal well being. Her iterative installations, found in cities around the world, are often tools for gathering community input about how to make unused public space engaging and inclusive (“I wish this was ___________.”)candy_chang_15

At times, her installations are more personal. After the death of a close friend, Chang struggled for perspective. Searching for a way to connect with what really matters, she sought permission to paint an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighborhood with chalkboard paint. Passersby were then able to complete the sentence “Before I die, I want to ____________.” The project spawned more than five hundred Before I Die walls all over the world and a book that collects images of the walls and the stories behind them.

She said the heartfelt responses—from “tell my mother I love her” to “follow my childhood dream”—help her remember what’s important.

“Our public spaces are our shared spaces and, at their greatest, they can help us make sense of the beauty and tragedy of life with the people around us,” Chang said.

—By Christina Hoffmann

Blog Contributor

This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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