Victor Thomas Jacoby Award Recognizes Local Visionary Artists

Three Eureka artists are winners of the 2021 Victor Thomas Jacoby award for artistic vision and creativity. Winners receive $10,000 each to support their work.

This year’s recipients are Shawn Gould, an award-winning scientific illustrator, and painter with an arresting life-mimicking style; Mo Harper-Desir, a multimedia artist who centers free speech, inclusion/equity education, and Black Joy in her work; and Marceau Verdiere, an educator, photographer and experimental painter whose work has been enjoyed throughout Humboldt County and abroad in Europe.

Victor Jacoby, an internationally-recognized Eureka visual artist whose chosen medium was French tapestry, established the Victor Thomas Jacoby Fund with Humboldt Area Foundation before his death in 1997 at age 52. Victor’s vision inspired his friend Dr. Rosalind Novick to make an additional gift to the fund and expand his dream of supporting local artists. This trust fund is dedicated to supporting Humboldt County visual artists and craftspeople and encourages exploring new ideas, materials, techniques, and mediums. In addition, the fund distributes annual cash awards to artists or craftspeople selected by a review panel of leading arts representatives.

Each fall, local artists apply through Humboldt Area Foundation for the Victor Thomas Jacoby Award by submitting ten examples of their work and vision for innovating and pushing their art to the next level.

About the Award-Winning Artists

birds in front of ocean wave
Into the Wind by Shawn Gould / Courtesy the Artist

Shawn Gould

Art and nature have always been important parts of Shawn’s life. Growing up, he spent many days outdoors exploring the streams and woodlands near his home. These formative experiences first established his deep love of nature and his unending curiosity to see more. Along the way, he learned to follow the path less traveled, a path that he continues to explore today.

Shawn began his art career as an illustrator, creating award-winning science and natural history illustrations for clients like the National Geographic Society, Smithsonian Institute, and National Audubon Society. This was an important time to hone his skills and learn to be professional in a creative environment. After working as an illustrator for a decade, he was able to turn his attention to creating his own paintings full time.

Shawn’s work has received national recognition in American Art Collector, Western Art Collector, and American Artist Magazines. His paintings have been exhibited in the Buffalo Bill Art Show, Birds in Art, the Society of Animal Artists’ Art of the Animal, as well as galleries and museums across the nation. He has been awarded First Place in the Artists Magazine Annual Competition, First Place in the Richeson 75 Animals, Birds, and Wildlife Competition, and an Award of Excellence at the NatureWorks Art Show. Shawn is a Signature Member of the Society of Animal Artists.

See more at

Video Courtesy the Artist

Mo Harper-Desir
Mo is a first-generation, Queer arts activist from Western Massachusetts, working across the country to provide arts-based creation, education, and services for community growth. Mo is a mother to two free brown boys and considers herself a caretaker to her community.

Currently, Mo follows a career in Digital Media and Education/ Community Outreach and works as an artist and consultant through her micro-business Mo HD Creates. As an artist, Mo actively creates using multimedia visual arts, hip-hop, hip hop theater, dance, and poetry. You may also recognize Mo from her work with Humboldt County organizations Black Humboldt and Access Humboldt. Mo’s ideas were birthed out of a love of mixed media, social justice, and implementing change into the world. As a media worker, Mo is actively working to create safe spaces for radical media creation and sharing, while addressing the issues and structures of inequalities surrounding race, gender, class, poverty, and more.

Mo values free speech, inclusion/equity, education, open communication, and Black Joy! Mo’s goals are to produce and support radical, free art to create inclusive and truthful messaging that is accessible to everyone; create uplifting and positive entertainment that is available from a wide array of artists; to educate communities on social justice issues, art skills, art creation and more; and to create a self-liberated future generation.

See more at and

abstract painting featuring broad strokes of pink, purple, blue, and green

Photograph courtesy Marceau Verdiere

Marceau Verdiere
Marceau Verdiere is a French-born artist living and working in Freshwater and has called Humboldt home since 2002.

His work, primarily in paintings and in photography, is deeply influenced by the Japanese aesthetic philosophy of Wabi-Sabi. In his paintings, Verdiere explores how memories might be visualized as traces left on one’s soul, the patina that defines our unicity. Verdiere is especially interested in the seemingly inconsequential instants—doubt, silences, daydreams—that are the fabric of our daily lives. To translate these ideas into paintings, he experiments with both the application and removal of pigments, creating marred and injured surfaces, rich as life itself, revealing traces and scars, like faded memories too stubborn to be forgotten. In his photographic work, Verdiere seeks out the worn-out, decaying, and thus overlooked surfaces around us. Aesthetically these images are often a visual inspiration for the paintings.

His work has been extensively shown in Humboldt and in Europe with several exhibits in France, Barcelona, and this past summer in Vienna. He has collaborated with the French Catholic church on a large-scale exhibition on the theme of doubt in the bible at a Cathedral in Wissembourg and worked on video-art projects in Prague with filmmakers and artists at FAMU and the Cerny Meet Factory. Verdiere has been an artist in residence in Spain, Sweden, and France. His work is present in collections around the world.

Currently, Verdiere is completing a master’s in art education at the University of Strasbourg, France, and is an IB Visual Arts and IB Art History teacher at Northcoast Preparatory and Performing Arts Academy.

See more at

The 2022 Victor Thomas Jacoby Award application will launch in the fall and will be open to all visual artists and craftspeople in Humboldt County.

About the Humboldt Area Foundation

Vera Vietor established the Humboldt Area Foundation in 1972. Since then, more than $70 million in grants and scholarships have been awarded in Humboldt, Del Norte, Curry, and Trinity Counties. Humboldt Area Foundation promotes and encourages generosity, leadership and inclusion to strengthen our communities.

For more information on services provided by the Foundation, please visit the Humboldt Area Foundation website at or call (707) 442-2993.

Kindly note that the Foundation offices will be closed for the Winter holidays Thursday December 23rd to Friday December 31st.

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