By JORDAN HUDEN
The newest addition to Tampa’s Riverwalk has drawn significant attention to the
area over the past few weeks. On Aug. 26, the Leadership Tampa Bay class
of 2016 held a ribbon cutting ceremony to unveil the Before I Die wall. This wall allows
strollers on the Riverwalk to engage in a community art project that shows the hopes,
dreams and goals of all who decide to contribute.
The first Before I Die wall was created by public artist Candy Chang in New Orleans.
After the loss of a loved one, Chang channeled her grief into this project that she hoped would restore perspective and inspire those in her community. She simply stenciled the words “Before I die I want to…” on a chalkboard painted wall, wrote her own thoughts and watched as others did the same, eagerly filling in their responses.
Our own wall in Tampa is overloaded with enlightening phrases such as: “end world
hunger,” “travel the world,” “cure cancer,” “meet my children’s children,” “hold her one more time,” “completely be myself” and “make a difference.”
Staring up at the looming wall puts into perspective what is truly important. It gives us the opportunity, even if it’s just for a moment, to contemplate something else and put our everyday worries behind us. And like most great works of art, it pushes us to think. What’s on our bucket list? What do we want to do with our lives? Where do we want to visit? What are our long term goals? What do we want to see happen in this world? What are we going to make happen in this world?
The Before I Die wall is unique in particular because it’s considered a living art project,
meaning it changes on a day-to-day basis. Every time it rains, which is quite frequently
in Florida, the slate is refreshed and ready for the next wave of willing participants.
Located only yards away from both the Tampa Museum of Art and the Glazer
Children’s Museum, the Before I Die wall only adds to the sense of importance local art has in the Tampa community. It gives citizens the chance to engage in a kind of creative outlet that is rare to most urban areas but ultimately proves beneficial to the neighborhood.
The wall will only be located on the Tampa Riverwalk until January 31st, when it will be moved to Tampa Armature Works permanently.
Jordan Huden can be reached at email@example.com