Past/Present/Future is the culminating exhibition to Thomas J. Watson Library's grant project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, which aimed to assess and expand the library's collection of underrepresented heritage groups, especially Indigenous American, Latinx, Hispanic American, Asian American, and Pacific Islander artists. While it is impossible to apply a single definition or category to all the acquired titles, many explore a suspension or intervention of temporality, bound together by shared themes of colonialism, land sovereignty, reclamation, and reconciliation. Thus, the titles selected here present artists whose work confronts the past, reconciles the present, and draws out new possibilities for the future of historically marginalized people in the United States. This selection also mirrors Watson Library's own endeavors to build a diverse body of perspectives and resources dedicated to the study of visual art by confronting what has been overlooked in the past, addressing it in our present moment, and mapping out a future where the collection better aligns with its values and purposes.
The selected titles were gathered together through the joint effort of the project’s research associates and bibliographers Amanda Raquel Dorval, Anna Lee, and Louisa Raitt. Watson Library’s NEH Grant Project ran between October 2021 and December 2022, with catalogers Helice Koffler and Kim Ross; library associates Mia Ciallella, Raymond Lei, and Lo Traster-Lee; and led by Jared Ash, Florence and Herbert Irving Collections Librarian.
This exhibition has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan, as part of an initiative to assess, expand, and promote access to the library’s collection of publications by and about Indigenous American, Latinx, Hispanic American, Asian American, and Pacific Islander artists.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.