Mel Chin - Founding Director

Mel Chin, from Houston, Texas, is known for the broad range of approaches in his art, including works that require multi-disciplinary, collaborative teamwork and works that conjoin cross-cultural aesthetics with complex ideas.  In 1989, he developed Revival Field, a project that was a pioneer in the field of “green remediation,” the use of plants to remove toxic, heavy metals from the soil. From 1995 to 1998 Chin formed a collective that produced In the Name of the Place, a conceptual public art project conducted on the popular prime-time TV series, Melrose Place. In KNOWMAD, Chin worked with software engineers to create a video game based on rug patterns of nomadic people facing cultural disappearance, and his hand-drawn, 24-minute film, 9-11/9-11, won the prestigious Pedro Sienna Award—the “Oscar” of Chile—for best animation in 2007. A current project, Fundred, focuses on national awareness and prevention of childhood lead-poisoning through art-making. Mel is also well known for his iconic sculptures and installations, works that often address the importance of memory and collective identity, and for inserting art into unlikely places, including destroyed homes, toxic landfills, and most recently working with advanced augmented reality (AR) technology, investigating how art can provoke greater social awareness and responsibility. A multi-venue exhibition of Mel’s work titled All Over the Place will be presented in New York City in the spring of 2018.

Jess Garz - Board Chair

Jess Garz has a background in architecture and urban planning, and is currently Program Officer for Thriving Cultures at the Surdna Foundation. In this role, Jess collaborates with colleagues in philanthropy and those on the ground, to support artists, architects and designers working towards imagining, and creating, more just and sustainable communities.  Jess was a member of Transforma, a collective that supported artists and cultural practices that impacted the social and physical environment, and assisted with research projects at the Urban Institute, a policy think-tank based in Washington DC.  Jess has often worked directly with artists in contexts beyond the traditional cultural sector, and is generally interested in the intersection, and tension, between the pragmatic and poetic aspects of cultural work.  Jess has worked in association with Mel and studio for over a decade, as project manager for Transforma that spawned Mel’s Operation Paydirt / Fundred Project, and for many years has been a friend and very informal consultant and moral compass for Fundred and beyond.

Pat Clifford - Board Secretary

Pat Clifford brings decades of experience in the front lines of the human service field both in executive leadership and as a convener for several community collaborative efforts. Pat has served as Executive Director of the Drop Inn Center/Shelterhouse for over twelve years, managing Cincinnati’s largest homeless shelter; served as a founding member of the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance, a collective impact effort seeking to align veteran support services in the Tristate region.  Pat has worked in association with Fundred Project for over 2 years, initially as program evaluator in Cincinnati and currently serving as project manager for the MIT CoLab Fundred Project.  Pat has worked with a wide variety of human service, civic, interfaith, and artistic organizations, helping them with project leadership, facilitation, strategic planning, evaluation, and research.  Pat has brought this and more to the Fundred project.

Helen Nagge - Board Treasurer

Helen has worked with Mel Chin on many major projects over two decades.  With her background in fine arts and publishing, she has overseen every aspect of production, from concept to installation.  Helen worked in Houston, Texas for commercial contemporary art galleries, including the Max Hutchinson Gallery and the Janie C Lee Gallery, and an arts non-profit organization, supporting public art installations in the city.  In New York she continued producing exhibitions with the Ineri Foundation and developing an in-house archival system for the Dintenfass Gallery while working with clients and the estates of Arthur Dove, Georgia O’Keefe, and other seminal American artists.  Helen has been an editor for many years, working with Simon and Schuster and Condè Nast, the Fabric Workshop, among others, and on multiple catalogues and books for Mel Chin Studio.