Photo by Mack Sullivan


Candy Chang is an American artist whose work uncovers the psychological layers within communities. Her practice includes installations that collect thousands of handwritten reflections from the public, and paintings and videos generated from this material. Testimonies of desire, dread, sorrow, hope, and courage are surfaced in shared spaces that challenge norms of visibility and offer new modes of communion. She is interested in the future of ritual in public life.

She is most known for her global participatory public art project Before I Die, which has been created in over 5,000 cities and over 75 countries. The Atlantic called it “one of the most creative community projects ever.” Trained in architecture, design, and urban planning, Chang started creating street art while running a record label and then applied these tactics to new forms of civic engagement. Her public experiment I Wish This Was was featured in the Venice Architecture Biennale. After struggling with grief, the focus of her public experiments shifted to the state of our psyches. After the End, a communal ritual that reckons with loss, was a New York Times Critic’s Pick. She has also created secular spaces for confession, a monument of over 50,000 anxieties and hopes, and electrified shrines that introduce emotional barriers into public space. Her work has been exhibited in museums including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, SFMOMA, New Museum, Nelson-Atkins Museum, and the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. She often collaborates with James A. Reeves to merge public art with site-specific video installations. 

After a decade of creating participatory art, she has become the steward of hundreds of thousands of handwritten anxieties, hopes, pains, insights, and moments of grace in the early 21st century. Her parents immigrated from Taiwan, and Chinese calligraphy instilled her reverence for the handwritten word. She reproduces visitors’ responses in her paintings that connect the 10th-century landscapes of Juran and 15th-century calligraphy of Ikkyū Sōjun with the language of the early 21st century. In these times of increasing alienation, she believes these anonymous, handwritten confessions offer a profound portrait of our common humanity that can foster civic health and a sense of belonging.

She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the TED Senior Fellowship, World Economic Forum Young Global Leader Fellowship, Urban Innovation Fellowship, Impact Top 100 Leaders in Public Interest Design, as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Rockefeller Foundation, Back Rock Arts Foundation, and Hemera Foundation. She has lived in New York, New Orleans, Helsinki, and the Mojave Desert, and completed artist residencies in Iceland, Portugal, England, Finland, and Greece.


Speaking inquiries: The Lavin Agency | Email
Art inquiries: Email
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Photo by Mack Sullivan
Photo by James Reeves


“Before I Die is merely one of the most creative community projects ever.”
—The Atlantic

“Candy Chang’s work at the intersection of public art, community engagement, and urban design touches on every aspect of art’s role in society and contributes to meaningful placemaking in our communities.”
—Public Art Review

“Candy Chang’s art serves as a wake-up call in our fast-paced digital age… She transforms nondescript urban spaces into compelling works that inspire the often device-obsessed masses to engage with each other, and the world around them.”
—Ad Age

“Chang’s emotionally driven projects prove we may have more in common with our neighbors than we think.”
— Forbes

“Memorial art works are notoriously difficult to pull off. Yet Candy Chang and James A. Reeves, two New York artists who have created similar installations in the past, hit just the right tone with After the End… It provides a place for anyone suffering loss or battered by contemporary life to mourn, meditate and perhaps heal a little.”
—The New York Times

“The notion of turning neglected space into an active invitation to engage with your community and get to know your neighbors is a wonderful embodiment of enlightened urbanism. What’s more, it’s a reminder that not all meaningful social platforms are accessed through a screen.”
—Brain Pickings

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Photo by James Shuster

Awards & Fellowships

American School in London Innovator-in-Residence (2022)

National Endowment for the Arts Grant (2021)

EPIC Impact Society Artist Award (2021)

Archipelago Artist Residency, Korpo, Finland (2019)

Hemera Foundation Tending Space Fellowship (2018)

University of Michigan Bicentennial Alumni Award (2017)

NES Artist Residency, Skagaströnd, Iceland (2017)

Hangar Artist Residency, Lisbon, Portugal (2017)

National Endowment for the Arts Art Works Creativity Connects Grant (2016)

Tony Goldman Visionary Artist Award (2016)

Lakkos Artist Residency, Heraklion, Greece (2016)

American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Humanities Award (2016)

Puffin Foundation Grant (2015)

Louisiana Cultural Economy Color Our World Award (2014)

Top 100 Leaders in Public Interest Design, Impact Design Hub (2013)

The Creativity 50, Advertising Age (2013)

The Good 100, GOOD Magazine (2013)

World Economic Forum Young Global Leader (2012)

Art Production Fund Artist-in-Residence, Las Vegas NV (2012)

Maryland Institute College of Art Samson Feldman Artist-in-Residence (2012)

TED Senior Fellowship (2011)

Rockefeller Foundation Tulane University Urban Innovation Fellowship (2011)

Black Rock Arts Foundation Grant (2011)

Alaska Design Forum Artist-in-Residence (2011)

Oprah Magazine “Live Your Best Life” Local Hero (2011)

Top 11 Visual Artists in New Orleans, NOLA Defender (2011)

Creative Capital of Culture Artist-in-Residence, Turku Finland (2010)

Fast Company Emerging Master of Design (2010)

TED Global Fellowship (2009)

Center for Urban Pedagogy Making Policy Public Fellowship (2008)

Sappi Ideas That Matter Grant (2008)

Global Studio Johannesburg Fellowship (2007)

Columbia University Award for Outstanding Contribution to Leadership in Urban Planning Education (2007)

Earth Institute Nairobi Studio Fellowship (2006)

Spatial Information Design Lab New Orleans Fellowship (2006)

Global Studio Vancouver Fellowship (2006)

Selected Talks

American Planning Association National Conference, Atlanta, Georgia

Canadian Institute of Urban Planners Conference, Vancouver, Canada 

Center for Architecture, New York, New York

Centro de Arte Contemporânea Inhotim, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

City of San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas

Creativity World Forum Conference, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Dallas Women’s Foundation, Dallas, Texas

Detour: Design Renegade Conference, Hong Kong

Detroit Regional Chamber Policy Conference, Detroit, Michigan

Global Health Summit, New Orleans, Louisiana

Google, Macau, China

Green Building Alliance, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

International Design Association, Kohler, Wisconsin

Metropolitan Planning Council, Chicago, Illinois

New Mexico Municipal League, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Psych Congress, San Diego, California

Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta, Georgia

School of Visual Arts, New York, New York

Summer Public Art School, Turku, Finland

TED Conference, Long Beach, California

TED Global Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland

University of Michigan Stamps School of Art and Design

Visión Diseño Conference, Querétaro, Mexico

Vivid Sydney Festival, Sydney, Australia

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Watermark Conference for Women, Santa Clara, California

We The City Conference, Vancouver, Canada 

WESTAF Public Art Symposium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Women Motion Picture & Television Fund, Beverly Hills, California

Women’s Leadership Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada

World Education Congress, Las Vegas, Nevada

Youth Art Camp, Almaty, Kazakhstan

4GN Design Congress, Bogota, Columbia

Photo by Marla Aufmuth



The Varieties of Religious Experience
William James

Stories of Your Life / Exhalation
Ted Chiang

Just Kids
Patti Smith

White Noise
Don DeLillo

The Middle Passage
James Hollis

Understanding Comics
Scott McCloud

The Fifth Child
Doris Lessing

J.G. Ballard

The Story of Philosophy
Will Durant

Devil in the White City
Erik Larson

The Machine at the End of the Mechanical Age
K.G. Pontus Hulten, ed. Museum of Modern Art

Children of Men
P.D. James

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces
William Whyte

The Little Prince
Antoine Saint-Exupery

The I Ching
(Book of Changes)


In the Mood for Love
Wong Kar Wai

Blade Runner
Ridley Scott

8 1/2
Federico Fellini

Mulholland Drive
David Lynch

Ex Machina
Alex Garland

Lost in Translation
Sofia Coppola

The City of Lost Children
Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring
Kim Ki-duk

Apocalypse Now
Francis Ford Coppola

New York: A Documentary Film
Ric Burns

The Century of the Self
Adam Curtis

Before Sunrise / Before Sunset / Before Midnight
Richard Linklater

First Reformed
Paul Schrader

Everything Everywhere All at Once
Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert

Carl Sagan


Sister Part 1
Cliff Martinez

In Church

The Voice of Love
Angelo Badalamenti

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

A Trop Répéter Bien
Alice Dona


Be Brave
Tropic of Cancer

Crawl of Cthulu

I Will Return

Francoise Hardy

Aphex Twin

Dirty D

Far from the Atmosphere IV
Chihei Hatakeyama

Cosmic Dancer
T. Rex

Angor Wat Theme Finale
Michael Galasso

This site was designed by Candy Chang and built by James Reeves using Wordpress. The fonts are Aktiv Grotesk by Dalton Maag, and Proxima Nova by Mark Simonson.