2022 Socrates Annual Open Call: Sink or Swim Climate Futures

Socrates Sculpture Park

32-01 Vernon Boulevard
Long Island City, NY 11106


Dec 06, 2021


Nov 02, 2021

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?


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.

Application Instructions

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.

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.