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Information Session*

*Monday, October 26 live-stream is archived on YouTube

Application DEADLINE

Friday, December 4, 2020 by 11:59pm Extended to Thursday, December 10, 2020 by 11:59pm!


End of March 2021


May 2021 – September 2021


Fall 2021 – Spring 2022


Application Instructions–>


Artist Studio Equipment List–>


‘The 2021 Socrates Annual’

‘The 2021 Socrates Annual’ awards ten artists – selected through open-call application process by a curatorial jury – with the funding, technical assistance, and administrative support needed to realize ambitious public art projects for dedicated exhibition in the Park’s landscape. Rather than adhering to a specific theme, ‘The Socrates Annual’ program seeks to showcase each Artist Fellow’s unique vision and practice.

Specifically, each Artist Fellow receives a $6,000 production grant to support their project, a $1,500 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 will provide 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 Focus

Since its inception in 1986, Socrates Sculpture Park has been referred to as a sanctuary for both the public and artists. Applicants to ‘The 2021 Socrates Annual’ fellowship & exhibition program are encouraged to submit proposals focused on the idea of sanctuary in its various manifestations – with the goal of presenting public artwork for a fall 2021 group exhibition.

The word “sanctuary” derives from the Latin “sanctus” meaning, “holy” and signifies a sacred or holy place. The word’s secular meanings are now more frequently employed, such as the broader “place of refuge or safety” or the more specific “nature reserve”. In Medieval times, political fugitives and debtors sought sanctuary at the church as a place of immunity and asylum, and the word today retains some of the connotation of spirituality from this early connection to religion. Sanctuary is not just a place of shelter and protection but also a place of reverence imbued with the energy of social generosity.

We welcome artists to consider all forms of sanctuary: spaces of rest and pause – offering a haven from the speed and demands of urban life; communities where immigrants undocumented and documented are protected from persecution; places of meditation and rumination on the social, political, and ethical challenges of contemporary society; and environments for non-human lives: plant, animal, bacteria, fungus in a world not entirely distinct and separate from humans but always in relationship to them. 

What does sanctuary mean to you? And most crucially, how can art function as a sanctuary, a place of refuge, rest and meditation – without resorting to escapism? During the current economic, social, environmental and public health crises how can public art provide a sanctuary and aid the process of healing?


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 online applications must be submitted by the deadline (Friday, December 4, 2020 by 11:59pm) and will be reviewed by the Socrates exhibition department and two curatorial advisors: Emma Enderby, Chief Curator at The Shed and Lauren Zelaya, Director of Programs at the Brooklyn Museum. Ten artists will be selected for the 2021 program. Artists are selected based on the compelling nature of the project proposed, clarity of intent, unique approach to the site, and public context.

Following the recommendations of the curatorial advisors, Socrates staff will contact applicants individually to discuss proposed projects before confirming the final selection in early 2021.


Once accepted, Socrates staff members will meet with each Artist Fellow to discuss project proposals in detail and begin to assist with the development, engineering, and installation of the work. A group meeting for all Artist Fellows and Socrates staff will take place in the spring of 2021, followed by an on-site Studio orientation. Individual progress meetings throughout the fellowship will help assess progress, troubleshoot issues, and review next steps. Artists are permitted to begin work in the studio after they complete the studio orientation. Selected works 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.


Socrates fellowships are awarded to artists whose careers and artistic practices would benefit from the opportunity. Artists who are enrolled in a school, college, or university during the fellowship period are NOT eligible for ‘The Socrates Annual’ program. Artists who have applied to the program before, but never exhibited work at Socrates, ARE eligible to apply again.

Van Lier Fellows

The New York Community Trust’s Edward and Sally Van Lier Fellowship provides support for talented, culturally diverse, economically disadvantaged young people in the arts. Two of the ten artists selected for ‘The 2021 Socrates Annual’ will be awarded the Van Lier Fellowship. You are eligible for the Van Lier Fellowship if you meet the following criteria:

-Are thirty years or younger at the start of the fellowship (April 15, 2021)

-Identify racially and or culturally with a historically underrepresented community

-Are a New York City-resident

-Have not previously received a Van Lier Fellowship


We only accept proposals submitted through our online portal.


Check out the Artist Fellowship Info Session recording:

Or email with questions or concerns.


We are eternally grateful for longstanding support from the Jerome Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and The New York Community Trust, which has enabled The Socrates Annual Fellowship and exhibition program to grow and evolve since its founding in 1995.

Socrates Sculpture Park’s major exhibition support is provided by grants and contributions from the Milton and Sally Avery Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Charina Endowment Fund, Paula Cooper, Mark di Suvero, Sidney E. Frank Foundation, Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation for Art, Agnes Gund, The Kayden Family, Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, Ivana Mestrovic, Nancy Nasher and David Haemisegger, Joel Shapiro and Ellen Phelan, Plant Specialists, Leonard and Louise Riggio, Silvercup Studios, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas W. Smith, Spacetime C. C., and our generous Board of Directors. Additional support is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

And special thanks goes to our public partners, including the City of New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Queens Borough President Melinda R. Katz, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, City Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Costa Constantinides, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, Commissioner Mitchell Silver, and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl.


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 1,200 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 9am till dusk, the Park is a center of cultural programming – as a producer of contemporary sculpture exhibitions, a presenter of a multi-disciplinary performances, an arts educator, and a venue for healthy outdoor activities  – all offered completely free of charge to the public. 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.