A public art installation has been added to Old Falls Street's middle block in downtown Niagara Falls. Guests and passersby are encouraged to leave their thoughts on the "Before I Die..." chalkboard wall as part of an international art initiative developed by American artist Candy Chang.
"As daily summer programming winds down for the 2014 summer season, we are happy to incorporate this interactive art piece into Old Falls Street's landscape," said Global Spectrum's Jason Murgia, assistant general manager of Old Falls Street, USA. "Our team worked closely with USA Niagara in order to install the 'Before I Die' chalkboards over this past weekend in an effort to provide an additional activity for our guests on the middle block. This, along with our colorful fleet of Adirondack chairs, as well as our ever-popular ping pong and foosball tables, allow families to enjoy themselves during these recent warmer temperatures."
The initiative is already gaining momentum, as many residents and visitors have shared their thoughts on the board before it was formally introduced to the public. Members of Leadership Niagara's youth LYNC program participated in the initiative on Sept. 9, during their monthly session. The board also will be available during this weekend's Niagara Falls Blues Festival, held on Old Falls Street Sept. 11-14.
The "Before I Die..." art initiative was developed by Chang, a Taiwanese American artist, in New Orleans in 2011. It was a way to express her interest in the relationship between public space and personal well being. Chang holds a master's degree in urban planning from Columbia University, a bachelor's degree in architecture and a BFA in graphic design from the University of Michigan. Since that time, more than 500 walls have been created in more than 30 languages in over 60 countries.
The Atlantic has credited this initiative as "one of the most creative community projects ever."
"Public space in cities should be interactive on multiple levels, and Candy Chang's wonderfully creative public art initiative is a unique example how visitors and residents can directly share their thoughts and hopes with the larger community," said Christopher Schoepflin, president of USA Niagara Corp.
The initiative has even gained appreciation from Aaron Ott, public art curator at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, who noted, "It is great to see Candy Chang's 'Before I Die...' installation as a start to the public art culture in Niagara Falls." Although not a collaborator in this project, he said, "As our own initiative continues to expand in the Western New York region, we look forward to cooperating with USAN, Old Falls Street and the City of Niagara Falls to bring more public art into downtown Niagara Falls in the future."
While visitors are encouraged to leave their thoughts on the chalkboard, it is important to note the nature of the art is to be never-ending in that, once the boards fill up with chalk-written thoughts, they will be photographed and erased to allow room for future guests to utilize the board.
"In keeping with the artist's vision, 'Before I Die...' boards can be installed for a period as short as a day or as long as a year," Murgia said. "Old Falls Street plans to take its board down for the winter, but will put it up again in the spring of 2015."