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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Bucket list wall still alive and kicking: ‘Before I Die’ art installation encourages students to consider their own mortality

City College fashion student, Jaidyn Cobbs, and friend Eli Prince look at the “Before I Die” project’s blackboard wall in front of the City Café. Katelyn Stark. | [email protected] | Staff Photographer

Over the next 100 years, it’s a near certainty that everyone now attending or working at City College will have passed away. An interactive art installation on campus is trying to draw attention to that concept.

A chalkboard posted outside the City Cafe reads, “Before I die… I want to _______.” People can write in an answer to complete their own personal phrase.

The project was originally conceived by TED Talk featured artist Candy Chang. Since the initial “Before I Die” wall was created in New Orleans, there have been more than 1,000 walls put up around the world, including the one at City College.

The two main players in bringing the chalkboard to campus were adjunct psychology professor Joanne Moylan-Aube and Communications and Public Relations Officer Rick Brewer.

Moylan-Aube brought the project to City College a couple years ago while she was teaching a psychology course titled “Psychology of Death and Dying,” PSYC 390. She wanted to promote thought about a universal condition that was rarely discussed.

“It was initially put up for people to think about their life, and to think about what goals you have and what dreams you have,” said Moylan-Aube. “We all have a round-trip ticket.”

Moylan-Aube says that the chalkboard is not designed to shape students’ futures but to make them realize that there is an end in sight.

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“You allow students to look outside the parameters, outside their daily life or family life or look outside themselves; maybe dream a little bit,” says Brewer. “This gives them a goal, big or small.”

The wall is scheduled to remain for about a month, according to Brewer, and will continue to be a feature of campus in years to come.

“It’s been an annual thing here at the college,” Brewer says. “I would assume it will be coming back year after year.”

Some City College students find the wall a welcome presence on campus, including Kayanna Gabay, who says that she views the wall as a kind of community.

Some of the answers written on the chalkboard include “find myself,” “be free,” “have a fixed income,” “become immortal” and “shake Jimmy Carter’s hand.”

The wall draws focus to the presence of death in the lives of all people, as Moylan-Aube notes.

“Live, live until you die,” says Moylan-Aube. “But rest assured, you are going to die, so on your last breath you want to say, ‘Wow, I am exhausted from having a great life.’”

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