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NPR Arts & Life

'Fundred' Dollar Project Blends Art And Advocacy

Contemporary Art Museum, photo by Rick Gardner

Since 2008, Mel Chin has traveled the country and collected over 400,000 of what he calls “fundred” dollar bills. They are hand-drawn interpretations of hundred dollar bills, using a template he created. He collects from individuals, schools, and community organizations.

“Our mission is to have everybody who wants to contribute can contribute a drawing,” Chin explained on WFAE’s Charlotte Talkss. “A drawing of currency they see it in the form of like a hundred dollars, it’s a “fundred”. They’re like, we’re having fun and to fund something.”

Think of it as a petition through art, and this petition targets lead. It was once a major ingredient in paint and gasoline, now it is recognized as a contaminant.

“What happens is that as it ages and flakes and becomes dust, it’s not so much the flakes but the dust gets into the soil and then the exhaust from cars over overpasses and over communities rains down this dust. And the consequence is that you have ingestion from the youngest members of your community and then get gets into the blood and the brain and causes irreparable brain damage.” 

Chin’s goal is to collect three million “fundred” dollar bills to raise awareness and make lead contamination cleanup a priority.  They won’t pay for anything, but the amount represents the $300 million dollars that one study estimates it will cost for a lead cleanup in New Orleans alone.


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