Before I die I want to . . .

Students bring popular chalkboard to Lexington to promote mindfulness of the future


After losing a loved one in 2011, artist Cindy Chang worked desperately to find a way to restore her perspective on life.

To help herself and others heal, the artist created a chalkboard wall on an abandoned house in her neighborhood in Louisiana with the words “Before I die I want to…” and encouraged community members and friends to share their hopes and dreams for the future.

“In our age of digital distraction, it’s more important than ever to find ways to maintain perspective and remember that life is brief and tender,” Chang said in a statement on her website.

The artist has encouraged individuals in neighborhoods across the world to spread the message and create chalkboards in their own communities. Four years later, over 500 Before I Die walls have been created in 70 countries ranging from Ukraine to South Africa.

Now, the project has come to Lexington. This past summer, Amelia Murcott, ‘16, discovered Chang’s mission. She contacted President Ruscio and Dean Evans to discuss bringing a wall to Washington and Lee University.

“My hope for the wall is that it will offer a new perspective to the W&L community,” Murcot said. “An institution so devoted to academic and professional success will benefit immensely from the opportunity to take a pause and record what we hope to achieve outside of passing our finals or landing our summer internship.”

Various students and professors worked with Murcott to design, paint and install the wall.

Head of Facilities Management Jeffery Wines constructed the board, and Eileen Small, ’15, created the stencils used for the words.

Murcott is studying abroad this semester, so Alice Cannon, ’17, and Camille Lejeune, ’17, have stepped in to help with the final stages of the installation.

“I’m excited to see how students respond to this board,” Megan Fricke, ‘16, said. “I think it’ll encourage people to both think about the future and appreciate a new work of art.”

Murcott has expressed hope that the wall will encourage optimism and allow the University community to remain devoted to the school’s motto: “Not Unmindful of the Future.”

The board currently sits in front of Elrod Commons, but it will be moving to a number of different sites around campus over the next few months. All community members are encouraged to add their thoughts to the board.