Open Call: The Socrates Annual Fellowship 2024
The Socrates Annual Fellowship is an opportunity for early career artists to realize new public artworks at Socrates Sculpture Park, a public park in Long Island City, Queens. The Fellowship is a highly competitive program that reflects the Park’s commitment to artistic experimentation and nurturing artistic careers. This important training ground for early career artists allows Artist Fellows to gain experience creating large-scale public art projects. Socrates encourages artists to create proposals that consider the use of materials and scale of projects in relationship with the Park’s five-acre landscape.
Fellowship recipients receive an $8,000 production grant to support their project, a $2,000 honorarium, and three-months of seven-days-a-week access to the resources and fabrication facilities of the Park’s outdoor artist studio, as well as the technical and administrative support needed to design and install an artwork within the Park. Fellows are responsible for the fabrication, transportation, and installation of their own artworks. The Fellowship culminates in The Socrates Annual, an exhibition that showcases Fellows’ completed works, from September 2024 – March 2025.
Artists including Leilah Babirye (2018), Sable Elyse Smith (2016), David Brooks (2009), Hank Willis Thomas (2006), Orly Genger (2004), and Sanford Biggers (2001) have participated in the Fellowship program since it was formalized in 2000.
THE SOCRATES ANNUAL FELLOWSHIP 2024 – Invasive Species
In 2024, Socrates will pilot an expanded Fellowship, welcoming two separate cohorts to activate the Park throughout the seasons.
Cohort 1 (March – June 2024) solicits artworks that take advantage of the peak spring growing season, focusing on the ecology of the Park and introduce “living” installations in the form of site-specific ecological interventions that will flourish as part of the landscape.
Cohort 2 (June – September 2024) is an opportunity for early career artists to fabricate and realize large-scale public artworks within the Park’s five-acre waterfront site. The Socrates Annual 2024 will open in September 2024, showcasing work from both Cohorts 1 and 2.
All applicants are encouraged to respond to the prompt “Invasive Species,” considering the legacies of species migration alongside the sociopolitical themes and myths of invasion related to people, animals, and plants.
As a public Park situated on the edge of Western Queens, Socrates Sculpture Park is a haven for hundreds of species, in addition to the many neighborhood dogs that visit daily. Of the wild plants, fungi, insects and animals live on site year round, some have ancestors that originated on lands nearby and others have traveled from afar. European starlings, English ivy, Spongy moth, Garlic mustard, Yellow toadflax, Japanese knotweed, Multiflora rose, Tree of heaven and Spotted lanternfly have all migrated to Astoria from around the world, contributing to the ecological community within the Park – they all also appear as “invasive species” on the USDA Invasive Species Profiles list. The USDA defines “invasive species” as “a non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and a species whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic harm, environmental harm, or harm to human health.”
Whether species migrate naturally, due to warming climates or are aided by specific human intervention, their movement is situated within the web of a geopolitical climate emergency. The framework of “invasive species” prioritizes the protection of economic resources, and leverages militaristic language and tactics signaling some species as welcome and seeking to eradicate others. Since they have been sighted in New York City, there have been calls to eliminate Spotted lanternflies by any means necessary. The Spotted lanternfly is indigenous to parts of China and Vietnam, and is reported to have “hitched a ride” in a shipment of stone to Pennsylvania in 2014. Spotted lanternfly can often be found cohabitating with Tree of Heaven, which originates in northeast and central China and was purposefully introduced in the United States as a horticultural folly in the 1700’s.
What can we learn from the relationships between species that have found ways to thrive in new environmental conditions? Why might a species migrate? Is there capacity for urban ecosystems to hold space for introduced and original species alike? How do the stories of invasive plant and animal species mirror human experiences? Can we work towards a vision of “invasive species” as kin instead of enemies?
Fellowship: March – June 2024
Installation: March – May 2024
Project duration: June 2024 – March 2025
This year, in an effort to increase the Park’s capacity to support “living” installations, Socrates is introducing a “pilot” ecology-focused cohort as an expanded approach to the longstanding Fellowship program. Cohort 1 Fellows will take advantage of the peak spring growing season and will have a dedicated outdoor work space and access to the Park’s grounds facilities beginning in March 2024. Cohort 1 will have access to the Park’s outdoor artist studio, including the wood shop but space within the metal studio will be limited due to ongoing fabrication of the spring 2024 exhibition.
All project proposals should respond to the theme “Invasive Species”. Cohort 1 is designed specifically for artists whose practices involve ecology, environmental justice, gardening, farming or horticulture and are proposing a site-specific landscape-based project within the Park. We encourage project proposals that include a holistic life-cycle approach regarding plantings and materials, for example; how plants or ecological features might be incorporated into parts of the Park at the end of The Socrates Annual 2024 exhibition or distributed in the neighborhood in tandem with community partners. We encourage artists to consider their materials’ footprint on the Park site. Projects should have a physical presence throughout the spring, summer, fall and winter seasons, and specifically consider the full seasonal growing cycle from March 2024 – March 2025. Projects are invited to activate sections of the Park that are underutilized, enlivening the corners and edges and draw visitors through the site in new ways. Artworks for Cohort 1 can be installed starting in March 2024 and will continue to be on view for the run of The Socrates Annual 2024 exhibition, through March 2025.
Socrates has a long history of working closely with artists who address ecological themes in their works. We encourage applicants to Cohort 1 to learn more about past projects at the Park that engaged directly within the landscape;
Mary Mattingly, Ebb of a Spring Tide, 2023
Patrick Costello, Ceding Ground in Monuments II, 2020
Rachelle Dang, Seed Box: Trees of New York, in The Socrates Annual, 2019
Meg Webster Concave Room for Bees, 2016-2017
Jessica Segall, Fugue in B♭, 2016 in Landmark, 2016
Casey Tang, Urban Forest Lab, in Landmark, 2016
David Brooks, Gap Ecology (Three Still Lives With Cherry Pickers and Palms), 2013
Kenneth Pietrobono, Selections From the Modern Landscape in EAF 13, 2013
Natalie Jeremijenko, UP_2_U: FARMACY in Civic Action, 2012
Virginia Poundstone, Wildflower Median in Interstate: The American Road Trip, 2006
Lisi Raskin, Portal 3 in Field: science, technology and nature, 2004
Fellowship: June – September 2024
Installation: August – September 2024
Exhibition: September 2024 – March 2025
Formalized in 2000, The Socrates Annual Fellowship is an opportunity for early career artists to fabricate and realize large-scale public artworks within the Park’s five acres waterfront site. Cohort 2 will have three-months of seven-days-a-week access to the resources and fabrication facilities of the Park’s outdoor artist studio beginning in June 2024. Artist Fellows are responsible for the fabrication, transportation (if necessary), and installation of their works. Socrates provides limited technical and installation assistance during a three-week installation period beginning in August 2024, M–F, 10AM–6PM. Specifics of installation assistance will be discussed with each artist selected.
All project proposals should respond to the theme “Invasive Species”. Cohort 2 project proposals do not need to be specifically utilizing materials within the landscape, but we encourage project proposals that consider the full life-cycle of the project, including what happens to the work after de-installation in March 2025. Project proposals for Cohort 2 do not need to include a proposed site, but should note their desired surrounding (waterfront, tree grove, underutilized corners of the Park, etc.). Final site placement is determined during the Fellowship period in conversation with the curator. Cohort 2 artworks will be installed starting in August 2024 for exhibition in The Socrates Annual 2024, September 2024 – March 2025.
Check out this year’s Artist Fellows who have work currently installed in the Park as part of The Socrates Annual 2023.
Fellowships are awarded to artists whose artistic practices would benefit from the Fellowship’s resources at this point in their careers. Any artists who have never before shown work at Socrates are eligible to apply. Artists who have previously participated in the Fellowship are not eligible, nor are artists enrolled in school, college, or university during the Fellowship period. Artists may not participate in out-of-state residencies during the Fellowship.
REVIEW PROCESS AND SELECTION CRITERIA
Completed online applications must be submitted by the deadline: Wednesday, November 29; 11:59 PM and will be reviewed by a jury made up of Socrates staff and additional advisors. Following the review by the jury, Socrates staff will contact applicants individually to discuss proposed projects before confirming the final selection in early 2024. The jury will weigh various aspects of the proposal such as: feasibility of production plan; considered approach to usage of materials
Once selected, Artist Fellows will meet with Socrates staff and discuss project proposals in detail. Meetings for all Artist Fellows will begin in early 2024 and continue throughout the course of the Fellowship. Artist Fellows will participate in an on-site orientation and individual progress meetings throughout the Fellowship to create timelines, assess progress, troubleshoot issues, and plan project installation. Specifics around project and installation support will be discussed with each artist selected. Socrates provides technical and installation assistance during the installation period, Mondays – Fridays, 10AM–6PM. Selected proposals will be subject to final approval by Socrates staff, and must meet safety criteria to be able to withstand the effects of weather and public use within the Park throughout the duration of The Socrates Annual 2024 exhibition.
APPLICATION DEADLINE: November 29, 2023 by 11:59 PM
FELLOWSHIP NOTIFICATION: January 2024
Announcement of Cohorts 1 & 2: February 2024
Cohort 1: March – June 2024;
Cohort 2: June – September 2024
Cohort 1: March 2024 – March 2025;
Cohort 2: September 2024 – March 2025
Opening Celebration for Cohorts 1 & 2; September 2024
ABOUT THE PARK
Socrates Sculpture Park has been a model of public art production, community activism, and socially inspired place-making for more than 30 years. Known for fostering ambitious and visionary artworks, Socrates has presented more than 1,000 artists on its five waterfront acres, providing financial support, materials, equipment, and space necessary to create large-scale works in the public realm. Open 365 days a year from 9AM until sunset, the Park is a center for free cultural programming, contemporary art exhibitions, performances, and education programs for more than 10,000 children and teens each year. The Park’s existence is based on the belief that reclamation, revitalization and creative expression are essential to the survival, humanity and improvement of our urban environment.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to visit Socrates – a unique New York City public Park located on the east river waterfront in an industrial area of Long Island City, Queens – and to explore the Park’s website to learn about the history and context of the organization and exhibition program. Visiting the Park will give applicants a better sense of the factors that affect installations and help impart insight into the facilities available at Socrates – from the tools and equipment in the studio to the resources of the surrounding neighborhood. Applicants can also review a Landscape Study of the park, completed by Landscape Architect Nancy Owens in 1986 to learn more about its ecological history.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What’s the difference between Cohort 1 and Cohort 2? Can I apply to both?
All artist project proposals should relate to the theme ‘Invasive Species’. Artists should select whether their projects are best suited for Cohort 1 or Cohort 2, based on the specific project proposal considerations and use of materials. Artists can only submit one application per year, and should choose between Cohort 1 and Cohort 2.
Cohort 1 applicants should prepare projects that involve direct interventions in the Park’s landscape, involving or engaging with living systems in the Park like plants, seeds, soil, fungi, compost, etc. Cohort 1 project proposals should imagine specific maintenance needs related to the work and create a lifecycle plan considering the evolution of the work throughout the seasons. Cohort 1 will run from March – June 2024 and artworks will be installed in the Park beginning in March 2024 and through March 2025.
Cohort 2 project proposals should also consider the Park’s site, use of materials and maintenance needs for the work, but can include materials not specifically emerging from or engaging with the physicality of the landscape. Cohort 2 production period will be from June – August 2024, and projects will be on view in the Park from September 2024 – March 2025.
What type of support do Artist Fellows get from Socrates staff?
Each Artist Fellow will receive dedicated staff time to discuss and plan the fabrication and installation of their artworks. Both cohorts will have a dedicated staff member who will work closely with Fellows to navigate all facets of production (feasibility, timelines, execution, and the structural integrity of their final projects).
Does Socrates support Artist Fellows with fabrication or installation?
Yes. Socrates’ Director of Studio and Fabrication and Curator and Director of Exhibitions will meet with artists throughout the Fellowship to assist with the creation of a fabrication, installation and maintenance plans for the work. We encourage artists to fabricate and install works themselves with the assistance and under the supervision of an installation crew hired by the Park. The Director of Studio and Fabrication offers refresher courses in metal working, wood working, and other fabrication techniques. We don’t expect Fellows to enter the program as expert fabricators, but Fellows often dedicate additional time to growing their fabrication skills on-site. Depending on the needs of the project, Fellows may need to enlist additional support from friends, colleagues, and skilled technicians. We encourage applicants to be transparent about the project’s needs within the application. Since The Socrates Annual is a group show, assistance is distributed among the Artist Fellows and is thus limited. Socrates installation crew will not fabricate, install, or de-install artworks on artists’ behalf.
What spaces are available to install work in?
We urge artists to visit the Park and familiarize themselves with the unique conditions of the site before submitting project proposals. Proposed artworks can interact anywhere within the Park site, but there are several locations that are particularly well-suited to specific types of artworks. Project proposals that have specific site locations in mind are welcomed.
How is the Artist Fellow payment distributed?
The $8000 Production Grant is released in two parts; $4000 is distributed upon signing a letter of agreement with Socrates, and $4000 is distributed mid-way through the Fellowship. The $2,000 Artist Fellow Honorarium is split in three payments; the first payment of $500 is released upon signing a letter of agreement with Socrates, a second payment of $1,000 is released after the exhibition opens and the Artist Fellow completes a program evaluation, and the last $500 is delivered after the artist has de-installed and removed the work from the Park after the exhibition closes.
Are there limits to what artists can use the funding for?
There are no limits to what the $2000 Artist Fellow Honorarium can be used for. The $8,000 Production grant should be used for the creation of the artwork only. Each proposed artwork should reside within the Park during the entirety of the exhibition period. Each project proposal should contain a budget for the creation of the artwork. There is space within the application for applicants to include details about how the Production Grant will be spent.
What do you mean by “early-career artist”? Is there an age limit to apply?
Fellowships are awarded to artists whose careers and artistic practices Socrates feels would benefit from the opportunity at this point in their careers. Eligible artists typically have a track record of generating and publicly presenting work over which they have full creative control, but are not yet at a point in their careers where they receive consistent development and production opportunities and significant recognition, awards, or acclaim. Socrates reviews all complete applications from artists of any age.
Can students apply?
Artists who are enrolled in a school, college, or university during the Fellowship period are NOT eligible. Artists who have recently graduated from a degree program are eligible to apply.
Can artists apply as collaborative teams?
Yes. Collaborators should designate a single point person to submit a single application. The project description in the written component of the proposal should reflect the specifics of the collaboration including parties involved, previous collaborative works, and roles / responsibilities of each artist collaborator. Applicants applying as a collaborative team should consolidate and upload their CVs as one document. The $2,000 Artist Fellow Honorarium will be split among the members of the collaborative team.
Can artists participate in other residencies and fellowships?
Fellows are expected to be actively engaged in their projects from start to finish, which often requires several weeks of on-site work during the project’s production. For this reason, we strongly discourage involvement in other programs that require extensive travel and time commitments during the Fellowship period (Cohort 1: March-June 2024; Cohort 2: June-September 2024). Fellows may not participate in out-of-state residencies once the Fellowship period begins.
Can artists based outside of the US apply?
Applicants based outside of the US are welcome to apply, however residing locally during the Fellowship and realizing proposals at Socrates’ facilities is integral to the experience of the program. All artists should be eligible to receive payment for work in the US. Applicants should consider their availability to be present at the Park during the Fellowship, exhibition installation, opening reception, and any partnering public programs based on each cohort. Applicants residing outside of NYC are responsible for arranging all accommodations, travel, and housing, and can use their honorarium accordingly for these costs.
Does Socrates have on-site facilities and equipment?
Yes. Socrates encourages applicants to visit the Park before applying, and imagine their work within the site. The studio space associated with the Fellowship is located outdoors, in a covered area within the Park that provides shade as well as protection from rain. An available list of equipment that will be made available to Artist Fellows can be found here. The Park also has pop-up tents available to be used on an as-needed basis.
Does Socrates accept proposals for non-traditional sculpture?
Yes. Proposals should consider New York City’s various weather patterns apparent in the Park’s waterfront environment such as wind, rain, occasional flooding, ice, snow, heat and sun, as all artworks will be installed outdoors for the duration of each exhibition. Project proposals should utilize materials and media that can withstand all potential weather as well as wear and tear from our 200,000 active Park visitors. Project proposals that involve participation, performance, audio, waterproofed printed images, or ephemeral sculptures meant to degrade over time are all welcome, and we ask that proposals consider these processes within the application materials. Video works have been difficult to present outdoors, but can be considered if there is a well-developed plan for installation and weatherproofing. Please note that Socrates does not have any video equipment.
How will artworks be protected? Is there security in the Park?
Projects will be engineered in partnership with Socrates staff for stability and longevity for the duration of The Socrates Annual 2024 exhibition. Park visitors engage with the works within the Park in many ways, and project proposals should consider the possibility of visitors touching, sitting on and even walking on artworks. There are no security guards within the Park. Signage is installed near artworks and can attempt to limit visitor interaction if necessary. The Park closes at sunset and is locked overnight.
Can artists dig into the ground at Socrates?
Yes. In many parts of the Park there are only inches of earth before hitting a concrete pad. Modest sized holes are dug for footing and securing artworks where applicable. Large excavations are often not possible.
Does Socrates have electricity?
Yes. There is a limited amount of electricity in the Park, which can be used on a case-by-case basis if integral to the proposed artwork. Often it is more efficient and practical to use solar power than an electric hookup. Decisions to use power will be discussed with Park staff.
Does Socrates have water?
Yes. There are zones where water use is available on site throughout the Park. Selected artists will have the opportunity to work in collaboration with the Park’s Director of Grounds and Horticulture and Maintenance staff to discuss specific water-based needs.
Please apply at the google form linked above. Make sure to review the Fellowship Timeline and FAQ’s when creating your proposal.
For your reference, view the 2024 application questions in the PDF below.
2024 Application Questions
Still have questions? Reach out!
Image Credit: ‘Ceding Ground’ Patrick Costello, 2020 Annual Fellow. Image: James Chrzan