People and places that shined a spotlight on Indigenous Art in 2022

The amount of Indigenous art collected and appropriately contextualised by creative organisations worldwide still remains pretty slim. But public awareness is increasing thanks to a few specialised curators of Indigenous art at major museums and many individual artists and curators outside those institutions. 

We’d like to give a big shout-out to some of the organisations and artists who, in 2022, shined a spotlight on Indigenous art and culture at museums, educational systems and international exhibitions.

Forge project’s Lending Collection contains 200 Native artworks

Matthew Kirk (Navajo), One More Time Around, 2020 Photo: Adam Reich. Forge Project Collection.

Forge project is a Native-led initiative headquartered in the Hudson Valley on the ‘unceded’ homelands of the Muh-he-con-ne-ok. The project centres on Indigenous art, decolonial education, food security, land justice and supporting leaders of culture. 

Launched in 2021, Forge Project is one of the few Native-led cultural initiatives in the US, serving to revitalise Indigenous histories through art, music, education and agriculture. The property includes a small gallery space featuring a lending collection of Indigenous art. The collection contains around 200 artworks by more than 50 Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, First Nation, Métis, and Inuit artists, almost all of whom are still alive. 

The collection is nothing short of exceptional and has been recognised by many world-renowned galleries and museums. By December 2022, the project had already received loan requests from the Louvre, the Baffler Art Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, Venice Biennale and the Front Triennial in Cleveland, among others.

If you’d like to take a look at some of the inspiring works in their collection, check out their website here.

Bard College Receives $25 million to support renamed American and Indigenous Studies Program

Bard College in Annandale-in-Hudson, New York. Photo: Karl Rabe.

In September 2022, Bard College in Annadake-on-Hudson, New York, made a large investment in the study of Native American and Indigenous art history. The college received a $25 million “transformational endowment gift” from the Gochman Family Foundation to advance Bard’s work to deepen diversity and equity in American studies with a Center for Indigenous studies. 

Bard’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,” according to the college. 

Home to the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College has teamed up with Forge project for the transition, with Forge’s executive Candice Hopkins lending a helping hand with developing the program and adding to the college’s library and archives. This year, Hopkins will curate an exhibition to introduce the gift and teach one course every year that utilises Forge’s growing collection and to shape the evolving narrative of Indigenous art history. 

Three Sámi Artists Represent the Nordic Pavilion at 2022 Venice Biennale

The three Sámi artists, Máret Ánne Sara, Anders Sunna and Pauliina Feodoroff. Photo: Marta Buso, OCA

The Nordic Pavillion, which represents Nordic countries, Norway, Sweden and Finland, handed over its stage to three Sámi artists at the 2022 edition of the Venice Biennale, the world’s most important contemporary art exhibition. 

Sámi artists’ – Pauliina Feodoroff, Máret Ánne Sara, and Anders Sunna – presentation marked the first time that an all-Sámi group of artists represented Scandinavia. 

The Sámi, Europe’s only Indigenous people, amounting to roughly 100,000 across northern Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Russia’s Kola Peninsula (where they inhabit an area called Sápmi), have suffered colonisation, land dispossession, and, more recently, the heightened impact of the climate crisis. 

All three artists brought these issues to Venice using different forms of expression. Feodoroff staged a performance using photographic portraits of the threatened Arctic landscape; Sunna presented a painting installation narrating the 50-year battle between his family and the Swedish state; and Sara used a series of sculptures made from reindeer stomachs to represent the oppression of her people and to also celebrate their culture and philosophy. 

The representation of Indigenous arts at Venice Biennale is increasing, although there is definitely more room to grow. 

Main image: James Luna, Make Amerika Red Again (2018), The Forge Collection