The Potential Project

The University of New Mexico College of Fine Arts is partnering with 516 ARTS to host The Potential Project a talk by guest artist Mel Chin, for “HABITAT: Exploring Climate Change Through the Arts,” a season-long collaboration offering an array of public programs this fall, on Thursday, Sept. 10 at 5:30 p.m. in Keller Hall, Center for the Arts.

Chin’s talk introduces a response to climate change through a model of sustainable economic freedom coming from a people without national status.

“For 40 years Saharawi nomads have lived in refugee camps in their native land under Moroccan occupation, and in Algeria, awaiting a vote for self-determination,” he said. “Forty years ago, Wallace S. Broecker first postulated ‘global warming’ due to human impact. Now this has become an internationally accepted reality. Devastating storms, decreasing polar ice and rising waters now threaten the world in an unprecedented way.

"A planned response to both scenarios emerged, after my visit to the Western Saharan refugee camps in 2011, as The Potential Project. The project envisions a Bank of the Sun that could provide the rest of the world with a working economic model as a response to climate change and by extension, a means to amplify the voice of a group of people silenced by isolation and desperation.

"The Potential Project envisions the first currency of the Saharawi people, utilizing their artistic expressions to guide its design, and to have its value backed by the power of the sun.”

The following day, the public is invited to 516 ARTS at 2 p.m. to join in a conversation with Mel Chin about art that addresses climate change issues and delves further into The Potential Project. 516 ARTS is located at 516 Central Ave. SW, downtown Albuquerque.

Chin’s art, which is both analytical and poetic, evades easy classification. He 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. He also insinuates art into unlikely places, including destroyed homes, toxic landfills, and even popular television, investigating how art can provoke greater social awareness and responsibility.

Chin also promotes “works of art” that have the ultimate effect of benefiting science. His projects are consistent with a conceptual philosophy, which emphasizes the practice of art to include sculpting and bridging the natural and social ecology. He has received numerous awards and grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, Art Matters, Creative Capital and more.

The event is free, but an RSVP is required. Email to reserve your seat or call (505) 242-1445.

For information about HABITAT: Exploring Climate Change Through the Arts, visit 516 ARTS.