History into Being

Collection gallery

MoMA, Floor 2, 208 The David Geffen Wing

“What does my heritage have to do with my art? It is who I am,” Kay WalkingStick declared in 1992. “Art is a portrait of . . . the artist’s thought processes, sense of self, sense of place in the world. If you see art as that, then my identity as an Indian artist is crucial.” During the 1990s, as issues of identity and representation emerged in mainstream discourse under the banner of multiculturalism, many artists resisted interpretations of their work that lacked a nuanced understanding of their race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.

For many of the Latinx, Black, Indigenous, and queer artists shown in this gallery, existing outside the bounds of dominant societies became a way to construct new forms of belonging under the weight of exclusionary social systems. Drawing on a diverse range of influences, from civil rights movements to Indigenous spiritual practices, these artists mobilized feelings of loss and otherness to contend with violence—both historical and ongoing—and foreground counternarratives of resistance, care, affinity, and survival.

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