After Hurricane Katrina, Mel Chin was a tireless advocate for this city's youth. When he learned that lead, a neurotoxin linked to violent behavior, contaminated our inner city neighborhoods, the Houston-born, Chinese American conceptual artist launched Operation Paydirt, a community based art campaign to obtain federal funding for soil remediation. His approach was typically novel--school children fashioning their own hand illustrated hundred dollar bills that would be presented to Congress to mobilize public funding--and while the economic and political winds have been far from favorable, the project continues, with some 44 million Fundred Dollar Bills created to date. This Rematch retrospective at NOMA reveals for the first time the intriguing, intricate trajectory from his early surrealist-inspired objects to his later, far more expansive and scientific, if often otherworldly, works dealing with the more pressing environmental and social issues facing the world, all linked by his boundless curiosity.
New Orleans Museum of Art, City Park, 658-4100; More Greatest Hits: Mixed Media Exhibition by Mel Chin, Through April 12, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400A Julia St., 522-5471. Left: Revival Field by Mel Chin