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MICA Students, Alumnus Raise Awareness of Lead Poisoning Through 'Fundred Dollar Bill Project'

Installation on view at the Contemporary Museum, Jan. 17-April 11

Posted 01.05.10 by MICA Media Relations

The Fundred Dollar Bill Project

BALTIMORE--Ashby Foote '10 (MACA), Mimi Cheng '11 (sculpture) and Alex D'Agostino '09 (painting) have been working with local K-12 schools and the College community to organize the Baltimore efforts of The Fundred Dollar Bill Project, a national traveling participatory art installation that will open at the Contemporary Museum (100 W. Centre St.) on Sunday, Jan. 17. An opening reception will take place from 1-5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 17.

The Fundred Dollar Bill Project is working to raise awareness of the dangers that lead poisoning poses for children in America's inner cities. Noted sculptor and project organizer Mel Chin, who will speak on Wednesday, March 31 at MICA's Falvey Hall, Brown Center (1301 W. Mount Royal Ave.) as part of the museum's New Art Dialogues series, has a goal of collecting 3,000,000 fundred dollar bills--or the equivalent of $300 million, the amount needed to make safe every lead contaminated property in New Orleans, so that every child is protected from the metal's impact on neurological development.

Fundred Dollar Bill Project at the ContemporaryThe Fundred Dollar Bill Project will be part of the Participation Nation: Art Invites Input exhibition at the Contemporary through April, displaying the fundreds collected from the schools, community centers and residents of Baltimore, and it will continue to grow as museum visitors can add their own hand-drawn interpretations of the U.S. $100 bills. Visit fundred.org to download and print the fundred template.

Students and community members across the country are currently creating fundred dollar bills that will be collected and delivered to Washington, D.C., where a request will be made of Congress for an even exchange of the value of the art currency for actual funds and services to support the implementation of Operation Paydirt, a citywide landscape recovery program for New Orleans. One of the most lead polluted cities in the U.S., New Orleans has an estimated 86,000 properties with dangerously high levels of lead in the soil, placing thousands of children at risk for lead-poisoning.

Fundred "demonstrates the participatory power of art as a driving force for public awareness, dialogue and action," Chin says. "We will reach children, those most affected by unsafe lead, deliver their voices to the U.S. Congress and solve the problem of lead-contaminated soil. Through this process we have the opportunity to profoundly impact the health of society."

Contemporary Museum hours are noon-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. For more information about Participation Nation, visit www.contemporary.org.

Photo caption: Installation of The Fundred Dollar Bill Project at the Contemporary Museum. Photo courtesy BMORE ART.

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 52 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.