Three Indian basketmakers from Maine won high honors at a national Indian art fair in Phoenix, Arizona. Jeremy Frey, a Passamaquoddy, won first place in Division B baskets (natural or commercial fibers, any form) and Sarah Sockbeson, a Penobscot, won second place in the same division at the 59th annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market, which was March 4-5 in Arizona.

Geo Neptune, a Passamaquoddy, won honorable mention in Division A baskets (natural fibers and cultural forms) and a Judges Choice award in the same division. All three were juried into the 2015 Portland Museum of Art Biennial.

The Heard show is among the most prestigious in the country. It draws nearly 15,000 visitors and more than 600 of the nation’s most successful American Indian artists.

“I’m just so honored to have my work recognized on the national stage,” Frey said in a press release. “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 specializes in ash fancy baskets, a traditional form of Wabanaki weaving. He has 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. His work has been featured at the Smithsonian, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, and in many other prominent museums around the country.

Sockbeson incorporates many elements of traditional Wabanaki techniques in her work and creates a new approach to the art form by using non-traditional colors.

Geo Neptune’s awards were for a basket called “Growth of a Transberry.” Neptune, who identifies as trans/genderqueer, said he plans to examine gender identity and sexuality through his work.

“My winning basket is dedicated to the seven trans women who have been murdered in 2017,” he said in a press release, “and the hundreds of missing and murdered indigenous women, girls, and two-spirits, and represents my growth as an artist.”

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