By Susan Jedrzejewski, McColl Center for Visual Art
Award-winning conceptual artist Mel Chin, currently a Knight Artist-in-Residence at McColl Center for Visual Art, will speak in McKnight Hall on the UNC Charlotte campus on Thursday, November 29. His talk, “FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE,” will address a variety of recent work and the value and intentions behind them.
Born in Houston, Texas, in 1951, Chin is known for the broad range of approaches in his art, including works that require multi-disciplinary, collaborative teamwork and works that conjoin cross-cultural aesthetics with complex ideas. His ongoing Operation Paydirt/Fundred Dollar Bill Project is a national, artist-driven, multidisciplinary project to help support a solution to lead-contaminated soil in New Orleans, to help end this form of childhood lead poisoning. The estimated cost to treat New Orleans soil is $300,000,000; the Fundred Dollar Bill Project aims to symbolically raise that amount through the collection of three million original, hand-drawn interpretations of US $100 bills.
UNC Charlotte students and faculty have been working with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to participate in the Fundred Dollar Bill Project and raise awareness about the national problem of toxic lead levels in our soil. Garinger High, Myers Park High, Northwest School of The Arts, and Sedgfield Middle School have signed on to participate thus far and we estimate well over 3500 fundreds will be drawn.
Chin insinuates art into unlikely places, including destroyed homes, toxic landfills, and even popular television, investigating how art can provoke greater social awareness and responsibility. He developed Revival Field (1989-ongoing), a project that has been a pioneer in the field of “green remediation,” the use of plants to remove toxic, heavy metals from the soil. From 1995-1998 he formed the GALA Committee, a collective that produced In the Name of the Place, a conceptual public art project conducted on American prime-time television. In KNOWMAD, Chin worked with software engineers to create a video game based on rug patterns of nomadic people facing cultural disappearance. His 24-minute, hand-drawn film, 9-11/9-11, a joint Chilean/USA Production, won the prestigious Pedro Sienna Award for Best Animation, National Council for the Arts and Cultures, Chile, in 2007.
Chin’s work was documented in the popular PBS program, Art of the 21st Century. He has received numerous awards and grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, Art Matters, Creative Capital, and the Penny McCall, Pollock/Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Rockefeller and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundations, among others.
Admission to the November 29 talk is free; the donation of one “fundred” is requested. For directions to McKnight Hall and parking information, visit http://www.uncc.edu/directions. Free parking for this event is available in the East Visitor Parking Deck.