Forge Project launched in 2021, a Native-led initiative centered on decolonial education, Indigenous art, and supporting leaders in culture, food security, and land justice, cofounded by Becky Gochman and Zach Feuer. It was sited on a 38-acre property in the Columbia County town of Taghkanic—on the unceded homelands of the Muh-he-con-ne-ok people—that features two structures designed by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. Since its founding, Forge Project has funded a fellowship program for Indigenous artists, fostered public education and events, created a lending art collection focused on living Indigenous artists, and launched a teaching farm developed in partnership with Sky High Farm.
Today, leaders at Forge Project and Bard College announced a transformational endowment gift from the Gochman Family Foundation, which will substantially advance Bard's work deepening diversity and equity in American Studies with a Center for Indigenous Studies, faculty appointments and student scholarships, and the appointment of an Indigenous Curatorial Fellow at Center for Curatorial Studies (CCS Bard). The College’s American Studies Program will be renamed American and Indigenous Studies to more fully reflect continental history and to place Native American and Indigenous Studies at the heart of curricular innovation and development.
“This gift represents institutional change, which has been building at Bard and is core to the vision of Forge Project. These lands are layered with histories that are inextricably bound by the displacement and forced removal of Indigenous peoples, yet also rich with knowledge,” says Forge Project Executive Director Candice Hopkins, who will join CCS Bard faculty as Fellow in Indigenous Art History and Curatorial Studies. “This gift provides the basis for the future building of this knowledge, to shift and expand discourses across fields of study, whether it be in Indigenous and American studies, art history, or curatorial practice. Critically, it also centers the needs of Indigenous students, reducing barriers to higher education, and recognizes that students want to attend programs where they see their interests reflected. Bard is at the forefront of this, and we are honored to be a part of this change.”