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A public art project elicits the profound, profane

First Published      Last Updated Dec 04 2013 09:58 am

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Building owner Rick Destito painted the "Before I Die" wall after seeing the idea on Facebook.

"It's such a simple idea but it resonated so much with me because there are so many things that I want to do before I die," said Destito, who is transforming the former gear factory into artist and rehearsal studios. He has watched people of all ages and backgrounds stop and write, some lingering, others dashing off a hope and hurrying off.

"... see a cure for autism."

"... grow a moustache."

"... get clean."

Nyquis Turner, 16, stopped to write, "play in the NFL."

"Find a cure for cancer. Be famous," Lynn Morehouse read from one of two boards that went up last month in Providence, R.I. "Some of them are funny. Some of them are a little off the wall. ... I like it."

"... find alien life."

"... tell my dad I'm gay."

Chang said a universal theme is personal well-being, citing repeat entries like: "come to terms with who I am," ''have no regrets," ''forgive and be forgiven," ''heal."

A hardcover book, "Before I Die," released earlier this month by St. Martin's Press, permanently captures some of the answers, which are often otherwise erased to make room for more.

"Some walls reflect the current politics of the region," Chang said. "But for the most part, the walls have shown just how universal our hopes are.

"We want to love and be loved," she said. "We want to see the world. We want to help others. We want to understand who we really are."


Associated Press writer Michelle Smith in Providence, R.I., contributed to this report.