In her search for meaning after her mother's death, Texas A&M graduate architecture student Nesserine Mansour built a chalkboard on Rudder Plaza, a busy area on the College Station campus, and prompted passersby to complete the phrase “before I die I want to … “
Mansour got the idea from an online video featuring New Orleans artist Candy Chang.
“Chang, who I like and respect, created a wall where she allowed people to stop for a moment and express themselves by just writing a few words about what they wanted to do in their lives,” said Mansour.
With help from Chuck Tedrick, the College of Architecture’s digital fabrications manager, Mansour built a chalkboard wall from recycled material and erected it at the busy location.
The idea, Mansour shared in an April 29 article published in the student newspaper, The Battalion, was to encourage people to meditate on the purpose of their own lives and inspire others to create similar projects.
“I wanted to find clarity in my life and to know what other people think or feel about life and death,” said Mansour.
Often, the board was so packed with comments people began writing their thoughts on the chalkboard’s surrounding concrete.
"Before I Die …" interactive public installations have since become a worldwide phenomenon, with similar walls built in more than 40 countries, including Kazakhstan, Portugal, Japan, Denmark, Australia, Argentina, and South Africa.