CALL FOR PROPOSALS – Sink or Swim Climate Futures

Fellowship recipients will receive a $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.

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, M–F, 10AM–6PM. Specifics of installation assistance will be discussed with each artist selected.

Thematic Prompt: Sink or Swim Climate Futures

As a public park and outdoor venue Socrates is an art space particularly attuned to the effects of climate change. Applicants to the 2022 Socrates Annual Fellowship and exhibition program are encouraged to submit proposals based on the prompt *Sink or Swim with the goal of presenting a public artwork for a fall of 2022 group exhibition.

This year, Socrates asks artists to consider the present day ecological conditions and challenges that our globe faces. Just this August, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that 1.5 degrees C global temperature within the next 20 years is unavoidable, but there is a window of opportunity for global action to slow the current warming trend and consequential environmental destruction. We are at once on the tipping point of irreparable ecological devastation and at the dawn of a new age of Green politics and technologies. Reduction of future emissions paired with technologies for carbon sinking [*pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere and trapping it in rock or water] may temper the warming phenomena. Or, the rising temperatures may further melt our glaciers, increasing ocean levels, leaving coastal cities under water. In this scenario, sinking is preferable to swimming.

While a global phenomenon, climate change does not impact all equally. The costs are greater borne on disadvantaged groups with less political power—those in developing countries, women, the young, the elderly, racial and ethnic minorities, and those without access to capital. 

How can we address the urgency, enormity, and challenges of climate change without falling into melancholy or paralysis? How do the matrices of race, gender, and class intersect in this Green future? What can we do to mitigate eco-anxiety surrounding these many simultaneous demands for global change? What can we learn from historically vulnerable, but thriving communities that can help us navigate this challenge?


DEADLINE: Monday December 6, 2021 by 11:59 PM  





Frequently Asked Questions Here


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.


The Socrates Annual Fellowship program is based on a competitive, open application process. Completed on-line applications must be submitted by the deadline: Monday, December 6; 11:59 PM and will be reviewed by the Socrates staff and outside curatorial advisors. The 2022 program will be highly selective this year, as Socrates devotes resources of an analysis of the program. Artists are chosen based on the compelling nature of the proposed project, clarity of intent, unique approaches to the site, and public context. Special consideration will be given to NYC-based artists of color under the age of 30.

Following the recommendations of the curatorial advisors, Socrates staff will contact applicants individually to discuss proposed projects before confirming the final selection in early 2022.


Once accepted, Socrates staff members will meet with each Artist Fellow to discuss project proposals in detail and begin to assist with the development, structural integrity, and installation of the work. Group meetings for all Artist Fellows and Socrates staff will take place over the course of the fellowship, starting in early spring of 2022, followed by an on-site orientation and individual progress meetings throughout the Fellowship to assess progress, troubleshoot issues, and review next steps. Selected proposals are subject to final approval by Socrates staff and must meet safety requirements to be able to withstand the effects of weather and public use.


Fellowships are awarded to artists whose careers and artistic practices would benefit from the opportunity. Artists who have applied before (but never shown at Socrates before) are eligible. Artists who have previously participated in the Fellowship and those enrolled in a school, college, or university during the fellowship period are NOT eligible.


Among the fellowship openings, three are designated Van Lier Fellowships and must fit the following criteria for eligibility of Van Lier Designation:

The New York Community Trust’s Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund provides support for talented, culturally diverse, economically disadvantaged young people in the arts. Recipients should reside in New York City and be age 30 or younger, with demonstrated financial need.

Applicants for the Van Lier funded residency must follow the stipulations of the grant:

— Be thirty years or younger at the start of the fellowship (May 15, 2022)
— Identify racially and/or culturally with a historically underrepresented community
— Demonstrate the need for financial assistance to advance their artistic careers
— Be a New York City-resident
— Have not previously received a Van Lier Fellowship

If you do not fit the Van Lier Fellowship Designation Criteria but do fit the Fellowship Program Criteria, you may apply. Just make sure to check the box that you are not eligible for Van Lier Designation. 

Only online proposals are accepted. 


Email with questions or concerns. Please allow for two working days for a reply.


Major support for The Socrates Annual Fellowship comes from the New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellowships, the Devra Freelander Artist Fund, the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, and public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by the Cowles Charitable Trust, the Jerome Foundation, the Charina Foundation, the Sidney E. Frank Foundation, Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation, Agnes Gund, Lambent Foundation, Ivana Mestrovic, and Spacetime C.C. The exhibition is funded, in part, by public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.


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 them the financial support, materials, equipment, and space necessary to create large-scale works in the public realm. Open 365 days a year from dawn till dusk, the park is a center of cultural programming, as a producer of contemporary exhibitions, a presenter of a multi-disciplinary performance series, and an educator of more than 10,000 children and teens each year – all free. 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.

2021 Annual Fellow Moko Fukuyama with a component from her sculpture Shrine (Hell Gate Keepers). Photo: Aaron Suggs