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The Mudd Center for Ethics Presents “Before I Die” Art Project The W&L community is invited to participate in the public art project, on view in Leyburn Library beginning Jan. 11.

Before-I-Die-Wall-New-Orleans-600x400 The Mudd Center for Ethics Presents “Before I Die” Art ProjectBefore I Die Wall, New Orleans (Photo by Candy Chang)

W&L’s Mudd Center for Ethics presents “Before I Die,” a public art project created by urban designer Candy Chang, as part of its series on the “Ethics of Design.” The exhibit will be on display on the main floor of Leyburn Library from Jan. 11 through June 1, 2024, and an artist’s talk and reception are slated for Feb. 19.

“Before I Die” is a global participatory art project that invites people to reflect on mortality and meaning as a community. Chang created the project when, following the death of a loved one, she painted an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighborhood with chalkboard paint and stenciled the prompt, “Before I die I want to ____,” hoping to restore perspective and find consolation with her neighbors. Anyone passing by could pick up a piece of chalk to reflect on life and death and share their personal aspirations in public.

The W&L community is invited to add their own aspirations to the “Before I Die” wall in Leyburn Library, creating a visual representation of what Chang calls the “gamut of humanity” with honest confessions of longing, fear, insecurity, gratitude, humor, pain and grace.

“This project will be a living and evolving point of connection for members of our community to pause, restore perspective, and consider the things that matter most,” said Karla Murdock, director of the Mudd Center. “Please grab a piece of chalk and make your mark! Our wall will be photographed, presented on the Mudd Center’s website, erased and redesigned through this spring.”

W&L’s wall will be one of over 5,000 walls in 78 countries and 35 languages, joining a global conversation about life, death and finding meaning. For Chang, the global scope of the “Before I Die” project reveals the power of connection and how much we are the same. Since creating the first wall, she has become passionate about creating new rituals in public life and finding new methods of building emotional communion and kinship with each other as we go about our daily lives.

For more information the Ethics of Design series and a complete schedule of events, visit the series webpage.

The Mudd Center was established in 2010 through a gift to the university from award-winning journalist Roger Mudd, a 1950 graduate of W&L. By facilitating collaboration across traditional institutional boundaries, the center aims to encourage a multidisciplinary perspective on ethics informed by both theory and practice. Previous Mudd Center lecture series topics have included Global Ethics in the 21st Century, Race and Justice in America, The Ethics of Citizenship, Markets and Morals, Equality and Difference, The Ethics of Identity, The Ethics of Technology, Daily Ethics and Beneficence.