Friday, April 23, 2010
Fundred Dollar Bill, Y'all
Sunday marked the opening of Mel Chin’s Uncommon Wealth by the People of Philadelphia at The Fabric Workshop and Museum. Confused by the overly earnest and clunky title? Allow me to explain… Much of Mel Chin’s work has a component of social activism. Uncommon Wealth is part of a much larger initiative, the Fundred Dollar Bill Project, itself a spin-off of the project Operation Paydirt. Motivated by unsafe levels of lead contamination in soil within the city of New Orleans (even pre-Hurricane Katrina), Chin wanted to find out what it would take to neutralize the threat. The estimated cost, $300,000,000, would not be raised; rather, it would be made, drawn by the hands of children, those at the greatest risk of health problems related to lead poisoning.
A Fundred Dollar Bill, a blanked-out template of a United States One Hundred Dollar Bill, can be drawn by anyone young or old. In cities across the nation, Fundreds are being drawn in classrooms as well as at museums and art centers. The bills are already in the process of being gathered by a custom armored car and pooled with all of the other Fundreds. The goal is to collect three million Fundreds—the equivalent of the cash needed to clean all dangerous soil in New Orleans—which will then be presented to Congress to prove the broad public support behind the issue and to leverage real federal funding for the project in an equal amount. It is a model that is applicable to other locations and very relevant to Philadelphia, a city with its own troubles of lead contaminated soil.
The New Temporary Contemporary at FWM houses a minting station where visitors can draw their Fundreds and then display them on the gallery walls. For the opening, artist Mel Chin was joined by Gary Steuer, Chief Cultural Officer for the City of Philadelphia, and Peter Palermo, Director of the City of Philadelphia Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, to open the gallery to the public. Do your share! Bring everyone you know to draw a Fundred Dollar Bill. Templates can also be printed from the Fundred website and sent in the mail. Think that art as a vehicle for social change is a self-mythologizing cliché? This is a real and true example of how altruistic it can be.
L to R: Mel Chin, Gary Steuer, Christina Roberts, young participant, and Peter Palermo
My Fundred (front)
My Fundred (back)
In Chuck Norris We Trust?