Wabanaki Artists Win Big at Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market

Jeremy Frey, Passamaquoddy, won first place in Division B baskets (natural or commercial fibers, any form) and Sarah Sockbeson, Penobscot, won second in the same division at the 59th annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market on March 4-5th, which draws nearly 15,000 visitors and more than 600 of the nation’s most outstanding and successful American Indian artists. Geo Neptune, Passamaquoddy, won Honorable Mention in Division A baskets (natural fibers and cultural forms) and a Judges Choice award in the same division.

"I'm just so honored to have my work recognized on the national stage," said Jeremy. "It's more than anyone can ask for and I am very humbled by this win. It's recognition like this that keeps me inspired and motivated to create new works."

Frey, who comes from a long line of Native weavers, specializes in ash fancy baskets, a traditional form of Wabanaki weaving. In 2011, Frey won Best of Show at the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market and the Sante Fe Indian Market, the largest Native American Indian arts market. It is only the second time that someone has won both shows in the same year, and it was the first time in the Sante Fe Indian Market’s 90+ year history that a basket achieved the highest honor. His work has been featured at the Smithsonian, Museum of Art and Design in New York City, and in many other prominent museums around the country.

Sockbeson apprenticed with Jennifer Neptune, Penobscot, in 2004 and learned the history, techniques, and art that has become modern Native basketry. Soon thereafter, museums and collectors across the country began to recognize her incredible talent. Her unique style incorporates many different elements of traditional Wabanaki technique and she combines that with innovative colors to create a fresh, new approach to a timeless and beautiful art form. 

Former Abbe Museum Educator Geo Neptune took home ribbons for Honorable Mention in Division A baskets (natural fibers and cultural forms) and a Judges Choice award in the same division for his “Growth of a Transberry” baskets. 

"I dedicate this piece to the seven trans women who have been murdered in 2017,  Mesha, Jamie Lee, JoJo, Keke, Chyna, Ciara, and Jaquarrius," said Geo. "It represents my growth as an artist and the evolution of my berries, from largest and easiest to smallest and most difficult. I kept the women in mind while weaving these pieces, and considering how I will be examining my own gender identity and sexuality through my art in the future. I chose to make blackberries rather than strawberries because of the purple and green--colors of the non-binary/gender queer flag. Purple or lavender is blue and pink mixed together--the colors traditionally associated with boys and girls, and the green or chartreuse is the inverse of those colors combined, representing me as in the middle of the spectrum as well as outside of it all together. As I was weaving the berries, I wanted to have one for each trans woman murdered in 2017 so far but kept hearing that I should weave seven berries. As I was en route to Phoenix, I learned of Jaquarrius' death. So, before entering, I added a woven hummingbird, my personal signature for the final basket. Even though it was added for Jaquarrius, I believe the Hummingbird is Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, the native woman that was murdered. The eight flowers, representative of my spider totem that gives me my weaving ability and my connection to the divine feminine, and the missing and murdered indigenous women. As I just came out as trans/genderqueer and am making baskets under my new name, it felt important to do this piece this way, with the spiral of sweetgrass--mother earth's hair--spiraling between them, representing the intersectionality of my identities. I want it to be a message to two-spirit youth now and in the future: you are not alone, and you are loved.”

Other Wabanaki artists invited to attend the juried fair were Abbe Museum Trustee Jennifer Neptune, Penobscot, Molly Neptune Parker, Passamaquoddy, Gal Tomah, Passamaquoddy, Emma Soctomah, Passamaquoddy, Theresa Secord, Penobscot, Gina Brooks, Maliseet, Jason Brown and Donna Brown, Penobscot, with Decontie & Brown, and Alannah Barnes, Passamaquoddy. A complete list of winners can be found at http://heard.org/news