Two-Spirit Artist, Geo Soctomah Neptune, awarded ‘United States Artists 2021 Fellows’ For Their Traditional Artistry
Geo Soctomah Neptune (they/them) was recently awarded the prestigious ‘United States Artists 2021 Fellowship Award’ for Traditional Art, and awarded a $50,000 unrestricted reward to support their visions. The United States Artists 2021 Fellows are made possible by the Ford, Rockefeller, Rasmuson, and Prudential Foundations, along with other inspiring leaders committed to cultivating contemporary culture.
“I am beyond thankful to be named one of the USA 2021 Fellows, as this award has come at a pivotal time in my life, and has the capacity to advance my work to levels I have only previously dreamed of achieving. I know that my grandmother will be with me as I continue to use the skills, tools, and materials handed down to us by our Ancestors,” Geo says.
This esteemed award celebrates artists and cultural practitioners, who have impacted the United State’s creative landscape.
United States Artists (USA) says:
“In 2005, USA was founded with a mission to invest in America’s finest artists and illuminate the value of artists to society.”
Fellowships are awarded to these carefully selected artists through a rigorous nomination, panel selection process, and then reviewed by the United States Artists Board of Trustees. Geo joins this honorable list of the nation’s most compelling artists, with past recipients like Kara Walker, Jason Moran, Benjamin Millepied, and Barry Jenkins.
“For me, the message that my art carries is quite simple:
“We are still here.” Indigenous people, Wabanaki people, Passamaquoddy people, Two-Spirit people–we are all still here, despite the many efforts to ensure that we would not be. We survived against insurmountable odds, with our languages, cultures, and stories intact, yet many people still do not even know that Indigenous people still exist,”
Geo describes the powerful message that can be seen through their remarkable artistry.
Neptune is a non-binary, Two-Spirit from the Passamquoddy Tribe of Motahkomikuk, and the first trans elected official of Maine. Neptune graduated from Dartmouth College, and is an activist for non-binary and two-spirit people.
USA describes Geo as “a master basketmaker, drag queen, activist, educator, and two-spirit—an indigenous cultural, spiritual, and gender role that holds the sacred space between masculine and feminine energies.”
They are a persistent advocate for educating the public about the contemporary issues faced by indigenous peoples, and have worked toward cultural preservation within Wabanaki communities. With teachings from their grandmother, Molly Neptune Parker, Geo continues to shape artistry with their unparalleled creative contributions to black ash basketry.
“The 2021 USA Fellows are a testament to the power of art in shaping the world around us and navigating its complexities. Artists do so much for our communities, and we are grateful to be able to support these 60 incredible practitioners and welcome them into the United States Artists fellowship,” says United States Artists president and CEO, Deana Haggag, in a recent announcement.