A Blade of Grass - Parallel Fields: Heavy Metals

A Blade of Grass
Parallel Fields: Heavy Metals

Wednesday, March 19, 2014
6 to 8pm

Mel Chin, Artist & ABOG Distinguished Artist Fellow 
Kevin P. McCarty, Principal Geologist, Integral Consulting Inc. 
Moderated by Deborah Fisher, Executive Director, A Blade of Grass

This conversation explored the role of policymaking in socially engaged art asking the questions: How can artistic practices improve the bureaucratic necessities of policymaking? Where can artistic practices be inserted most effectively? How can conventional strategies help artists present their work to policymakers? Where is the best place to start? What are the best questions to ask? 


Artist Mel Chin initiated Operation Paydirt and the Fundred Dollar Bill Project in 2006 to engage communities nationwide in a creative grassroots action to instigate solutions to the national crisis of lead contamination.  Over eight years, the project has grown from a viral initiative involving a few thousand children to over 400,000 participants across the country, advancing awareness of lead poisoning prevention and remediation practices. His goal is to convert “Fundreds” – handmade hundred dollar bills – into actual federal appropriations to fund lead poisoning awareness and lead remediation. Mel is ABOG’s inaugural Distinguished Fellow. 

His poetic approach is in contrast to the work of Kevin McCarty, a geologist who has been in the trenches – sometimes literally – in the battle to eradicate lead from the built environment for over 25 years. He has worked on a wide variety of project sites that have been involved with regulatory programs and oversight of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York City Office of Environmental Remediation. His intimate knowledge of policy making and implementation, and involvement in the rewriting of environmental specifications for construction will serve as a window into the mechanisms and funding of public policies of the sort that Mel intends to promote.

Parallel Fields is a discussion series that pairs an artist and a non-artist, both of whose work is socially engaged, to discuss with an audience how different professions are connected.