Initiative to support Indigenous artists announces inaugural residencies and grants

The artist Sky Hopinka and three recipients will receive $25,000 and residencies at an Ai Weiwei-designed home in upstate New York

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A part of the "Forge House" in Taghkanic, New York

A part of the "Forge House" in Taghkanic, New York

The artist Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk Nation/Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians) and three other recipients have been awarded $25,000 fellowships from the Forge Project, an initiative launched this year that aims to address disparities around the representation of Indigenous artists. The residencies will take place for various durations in Taghkanic, New York, within a modular home the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei designed in 2006 for the art collector Christopher Tsai.

The initiative was founded by the American philanthropist Becky Gochman in collaboration with the directors Candice Hopkins (Carcross/Tagish First Nation) and Heather Bruegl (Oneida/Stockbridge-Munsee). It was envisioned as “a point of influence for the broader art world” that will support the creation of a comprehensive collection of Indigenous artworks and educational programmes that aim to prompt dialogue around decolonisation, according to Hopkins.

The project has amassed a collection of more than 100 works by living Indigenous artists, including Nicholas Galanin’s (Tlingit/Unangax̂) Never Forget (2021)—an appropriation of the Hollywood sign with the words Indian Land—and Cannupa Hanska Luger’s mirrored shields (2016) from the Standing Rock protests.

“There are some significant examples of an artist’s practice and contemporary art as a whole in the collection, and from the beginning it’s been intended to be a working collection,” Hopkins says. “It will be loaned, open for research and digitised and available online.”

She adds, “There’s a great imbalance between how works by Native artists are valued versus works by non-Native artists, and many Native artists don’t even have gallery representation. Part of what Forge can do through the collection is try to address that gap in value, make their work more public and give Native artists their due.”

Other recipients of the grant include the architect Chris T. Cornelius (Oneida), the writer Jasmine Neosh (Menominee) and the author Brock Schreiber (Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans).

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