Before I Die

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The "Before I Die" mural is an interactive "community art project", executed in black chalkboard paint with the large heading "Before I die..." at the top and dozens of lines reading "Before I die I want to _____________________," for viewers to fill in with chalk.

There have been two such installations in Birmingham. The first was created in 2013 at 60 14th Street South in the Parkside District of Five Points South, and the second debuted in 2019 at 2032 Morris Avenue in the Loft District of the city's Central City neighborhood.

The concept for the mural was inaugurated by Taiwanese-American artist and urban planner Cindy Chang, who created the first such "interactive wall" in February 2011 after experiencing the death of a loved one. The installation covered a 41-foot long by 8-foot tall plywood barricade in front of a then-abandoned house in New Orleans' Faubourg Marigny. That project– which was sanctioned by the property owner, the neighborhood association, the Historic District Landmarks Commission and the City Planning Commission– was removed and the house was renovated by 2013, but by then the "Before I Die Project" had expanded beyond New Orleans. Chang's July 2012 TED talk about the project garnered millions of views worldwide.

In July 2013 TEDx Birmingham organizer Matthew Hamilton proposed a Birmingham installation of the Before I Die Project on the east wall of the Wood Wade building, facing Railroad Park. He presented the proposal to the Birmingham Design Review Committee, pledging that a team of volunteers would remove offensive additions and that the board would be regularly cleaned. As planned the installation would be removed within a few months to allow for the building to be renovated for Beer Engineers.

In 2019 a new Before I Die mural was planned for the space facing Morris Avenue beneath the Rainbow Viaduct. Jay Brandrup, owner of Kinetic Communications worked with Rob Buddo of REV Birmingham to get permission to use the exterior wall of an existing Birmingham Department of Public Works maintenance storage facility. Brandrup gathered support from other business along Morris Avenue and commissioned Marcus Fetch of Redpath Creative to carry out the work in late March.

While Fetch was working, he learned of the death of a close friend, Jubeleine "Juby" Mago. He left a blank area at the center of the mural and chalked a memorial to her in that space. Brandup set up a camera facing the mural from his office, with highlights posted to the Awkward Morris website.

On July 26, 2021 a stack of cardboard cartons which has piled up at the base of the mural caught fire, significantly damaging the mural. Brandup again approached neighboring businesses for financial support and in January 2024 the mural was restored. The occasion was marked by a new piece of artwork at the center, a cartoon image of pigeons feasting, designed and chalked by Kinetic staffer Catherine Blake.


  • Tomberlin, Michael (July 10, 2013) ""Before I die" global art project coming to Birmingham." The Birmingham News
  • Chambley, Hannah (April 5, 2019) "Before I die I want to _____. Here are your responses to the new Birmingham mural on Morris Ave plus how you can help paint the next one." Bham Now
  • Groover, Shilo (April 11, 2019) "What do you want to do before you die? New mural in downtown B’ham wants to know."
  • Wood, Cecilia (July 26, 2021) "Damage to the “Before I die” mural—find out how to stay involved." Bham Now
  • Gronberg, Sarah (January 11, 2024) "“Before I Die” mural on Morris Avenue gets a makeover." Bham Now

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