Forge Project was launched in 2021, an Indigenous-led initiative centered on decolonial education, Indigenous art and supporting culture, food security and land justice leaders, co-founded by Becky Gochman and Zach Fire. It was located on a 38-acre property in the town of Taghkanic, Columbia County, on the unceded homelands of the Muh-he-con-ne-ok people, which includes two structures designed by the artist and activist Chinese Ai Weiwei. Since its founding, Forge Project has funded a grant program for Indigenous artists, encouraged education and public events, created a lending art collection focused on living Indigenous artists, and launched an educational farm developed in partnership with Sky High Farm.
Today, leaders of The Forge Project and Bard College announced a transformational endowment gift from the Gochman Family Foundation, which will significantly advance Bard’s work in furthering diversity and equity in American Studies with a center for studies, faculty appointments and scholarships, and the appointment of a Fellow in Indigenous Curatorial Studies at the Center for Curatorial Studies (CCS Bard). The College’s American Studies program will be renamed American and Native Studies to better reflect continental history and place Native American and Native Studies at the heart of curriculum innovation and development.
“This donation represents an institutional change, which has been built at Bard and is at the heart of the vision of Forge Project. These lands are full of stories inextricably linked to the displacement and forced removal of indigenous peoples, but also rich in knowledge,” says Candice Hopkins, executive director of the Forge project, who will join the CCS Bard faculty as a researcher in the history of Indigenous art and in conservation studies. . “This gift provides the foundation for the future construction of this knowledge, to shift and expand discourses in all fields of study, whether in Native and American studies, art history or the practice of conservation. Importantly, it also centers the needs of Indigenous students, reduces barriers to higher education, and recognizes that students want to pursue programs where they see their interests reflected. Bard is at the forefront of this, and we are honored to be part of this change.