It’s called Operation Paydirt and includes a effort called The Fundred Dollar Bill Project, which is collecting imitation one hundred dollar bills illustrated by students nationwide. The idea have at least three million children make one note — the project calls them a fundred — to exchange to present these to Congress in exchange for the $300 million scientists estimate is needed to clean up lead-tainted soil in New Orleans. Hundreds of Jefferson County students have made these bills.
Artist Mel Chin is behind the effort that is now collecting bills from cities across the country.
“As far as the physical dynamics of the actual fundreds when we have these together,” he says, “they’ll probably be about seven to eight thousand pounds of drawings stacked in a single block that will be about five-feet high and five-feet wide and ten-feet long.”
“It might even be spring of next year before we can have the exchange agreed upon,” he says. “It’s not about surprising people who are representing the people of America. It’s about working with the representatives of the constituents who have drawn these bills.”
Chin mounted the project with scientists a post-hurricane visit when he learned of the vast amount of lead there. he and team members, including scientist, wanted to significantly address lead-contamination there in a new way that can be replicated in other cities.
“We want to make the health of individuals all across America that might be compromised by lead in soil also to be part of that,” he says. “And that takes patience, much more than the immediate gratification effect of sometimes, just ‘there’s the artwork; give us the money.’”
Chin will be in Louisville Tuesday to speak at 21C Museum Hotel, after which a large truck will collect the bills to take to Washington.
Art teachers from Ballard High and Whitney Young Elementary schools worked with their students to make fundreds last year. This semeseter, the Louisville Visual Art Association has been working with teachers and students at about a dozen schools to make the conterfiet bills.