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Strand Notebook | Art museum brings first ‘Before I Die’ wall to area

The Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum.
The Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum. The Sun News file

“Before I die I want to … ”

You can write the rest of that sentence and reflect on what others have written on a “Before I Die” interactive wall now outside the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach. The wall will open to the public Tuesday.

According to the museum, artist Candy Chang, in depression after the death of a friend from liver cancer in 2011, created the first “Before I Die” wall in New Orleans. With the permission of the owner of an abandoned house, she painted the side of it with chalkboard paint and stenciled it in a grid repeating, “Before I die I want to … .” Leaving the remainder of the sentence blank, she gave neighbors and people passing by the opportunity to pick up a piece of chalk, reflect on their lives and share their personal aspirations.

By the next day, the wall was full of responses: “Before I die I want to … sing for millions, plant a tree, find love, see equality, straddle the International Date Line, see my daughter graduate” and more.

Chang said the responses reassured her that she was not alone as she tried to make sense of herself.

“Comforted and inspired by the writings, Chang posted photos of the wall online. Before long, she had received hundreds of messages from people who wanted to make a wall in their communities. Since then, over 550 ‘Before I Die’ walls have been created in over 35 languages in over 70 countries, including Kazakhstan, Iraq, Haiti, China, Ukraine, Portugal, Japan, Denmark, Argentina and South Africa.”

“Before I Die” walls have been up for as little as a day and as long as a year, and have been created by student groups, individuals and nonprofits. They have been organized in Asheville, N.C., and Charleston and Columbia. The art museum’s mural is the first “Before I Die” wall on the Grand Strand.

The Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum (Myrtle Beach Art Museum) is at 3100 S. Ocean Blvd. While you are there, be sure to go inside and enjoy the current exhibits. Admission is always free. Donations are appreciated.

Some of the upcoming exhibits include “Steve Jameson: Ode to the Grand Strand,” which opens Tuesday . Opening on June 9 are “Norman Rockwell’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn,” “John Baeder’s Road Well Taken” and “Sandy Logan Ironic Abstraction.”

In addition to the current and upcoming exhibits, you may also want to check out upcoming art adventures for children and other activities.

Chang’s book, “Before I Die,” which celebrates many of the walls and tells the stories behind them, can be purchased at Amazon.com and other outlets.

For more information about the Myrtle Beach art museum, visit www.myrtlebeachartmuseum.org or call 258-2510.

Contact PEGGY MISHOE at pegmish@sccoast.net or 365-3885.

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