Staff Report

What started as an experiment on an abandoned New Orleans house has grown into a global movement on more than 4,000 walls across 71 countries in 35 different languages.

In January, the artistic movement makes its way to Hancock College.

Artist Candy Chang’s installation “Before I Die” will run in the Ann Foxworthy Gallery from Jan. 14 through Feb. 8. The art project invites people of all ages to reflect on the things they want to do before they die, and then add their thoughts to the gallery walls.

“This project is about bringing communities together and allowing us to find our common ground,” said gallery director Laura-Susan Thomas. “In an age where everything changes so quickly, 24-hour news cycles and a social climate that sometimes divides us rather than bringing us together, this interactive piece allows us to look at the big picture and think about what is truly important or what we want to have done in our lifetime, whether it be a big or small act.”

A key part of the project’s mission is to remove the stigma of discussing death and help inject conversations about mortality into a visual landscape that is preoccupied with instant gratification, youth and distraction.

“This installation is truly a living, breathing project, and the success of it is dependent on the individuals who participate,” said Thomas. “We hope both our Hancock community and members of all ages from our Santa Maria and Central Coast communities come play and see other’s responses – perhaps speak with someone new and leave the gallery feeling more connected on a deeper level.”

During the exhibition, the gallery will host two official events. Community Art Night will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, and Community Art Afternoon will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. the following Thursday, Jan. 24.  Attendees will learn about the artist, Candy Chang, view images of other walls around the world, and read what others have written.

For more information, contact gallery director Laura-Susan Thomas at or call 1-805-922-6966, ext. 3465.