In the spirit: ‘Before I Die’ wall comes to Biltmore Ave.

Passerby's contribute to a Before I Die wall in Savannah, GA. Photo by Trevor Coe

“How would your life be different today if you knew that you would not wake up tomorrow?” asks Greg Lathrope, co-director of the Bridges of Bardo project, a series of local events staged to encourage public discourse around the subject of death. “And then you can take it to a relational level and say, ‘How would your life be different if those closest to you did not wake up tomorrow? How would your life be different today?'”

Fellow co-directors Said Osio and Jason Hebel invite locals to consider these questions with an upcoming public art project titled, the “Before I Die Wall.” The chalkboard-painted wall will display dozens of unfinished statements reading: “Before I Die [blank],” opening the discourse to passers-by who can use the chalk provided to fill in the blanks with their aspirations. The art piece will be on display at 35 Biltmore Ave. for three months beginning Friday, July 4.

The first “Before I Die” wall was set up in New Orleans in 2011 by graphic artist Candy Chang, who after months of grieving the loss of a loved one, realized that having a more everpresent relationship with death helped her to relate more authentically to her own life and the people around her. Since then, more than 500 walls have been set up worldwide in 65 countries and in 30 different languages.

“The typical experience in our culture is to fear death, and it just a total distortion in terms of harmony,” says Osio. “It locks down every experience, and people suffer unnecessarily. So, in a way, we think of ourselves as bodhisattvas. We want to relieve suffering, and I am committed to addressing death so that people don’t necessarily have to be freaked out about it.”

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About Jordan Foltz
Exploring the subtle and esoteric aspects of what drives and inspires people to take action— including religion, spirituality, ethics, and aesthetics.

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