Bard College, home to the Center for Curatorial Studies, has made a major investment in the study of Native American and Indigenous art history.
The school has announced a “transformational” endowment gift from the Gochman Family Foundation that will be used to establish a Center for Indigenous Studies. The gift will also support the appointment of the school’s first Indigenous Curatorial Fellow.
Meanwhile Bard’s American Studies Program will be renamed American and Indigenous Studies to “more fully reflect continental history,” according to the school.
Bard has partnered with Forge Project, a Native-led initiative whose campus hosts an artist residency, lending collection, and exhibition space, among other services, for the transition. Forge’s executive director, Candice Hopkins, will help develop dedicated programming, helping to pick visiting scholars and acquisitions for the school’s library and archives. Hopkins will also curate an exhibition in 2023 to inaugurate the gift and teach one course per year that utilizes Forge’s growing collection to examine—and shape—the evolving narrative of Native and Indigenous art history.
“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,” Candice Hopkins, herself an alum of CCS Bard, said in a statement.
Following this gift, the school will also work to reduce barriers between higher education and Indigenous students: new undergraduate and graduate scholarship funds will cover tuition, fees, materials, and the cost of living for candidates. Additionally, Bard will establish a chair for a distinguished scholar in the new Indigenous Studies center.
The whole endeavor is supported by the College’s $1 billion endowment fund drive, launched last year. CCS Bard received a $50 million gift in honor of its 30th anniversary—a paired donation of $25 million from billionaire investor George Soros and the Marieluise Hessel Foundation, which manages the prodigious collection the program was founded on.
These initiatives, developed in partnership with Forge Project, will be supported by a $50 million endowment created by this $25 million gift from the Gochman Family Foundation, with an additional $25 million matching commitment from George Soros and the Open Society Foundations as part of Bard College’s endowment drive.
“I would like to express my deep gratitude to the Gochman Family Foundation for this generous endowment gift to support Native American and Indigenous studies in undergraduate and graduate academic programs,” Bard College President Leon Botstein said in a statement. “This is a fantastic contribution to the study of America, vital to a liberal arts education offering a broader understanding of the country.”