Provincetown painter Jo Hay has been selected as The Arts Foundation of Cape Cod’s inaugural Artist of the Year.
The award recognizes a Cape-based artist whose work shapes thought, inspires change, and creates a deeper sense of connection in the community.
“Jo Hay’s work does all of that and more,” said AFCC Executive Director Julie Wake. “Through her art, she tackles difficult topics, stimulates dialogue, and allows us to better understand our world by highlighting change-makers in society. Her work really encapsulates watershed moments happening right now.”
A panel consisting of AFCC board members, staff, and supporters made recommendations for the Artist of the Year award, focusing on creatives in Barnstable County and basing their decision on craftsmanship, artistic quality, creative ability, impact on our cultural region and beyond, and whose work aligns with the AFCC’s mission to support, promote, and celebrate the arts and culture of Cape Cod.
Since 2016, Hay has been working on “Persisters,” a portrait series of large-scale paintings representing trailblazing women in their pursuit of justice. Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, sabre fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, poet Amanda Gorman and the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg are just a few of the prolific faces she has painted in her inimitable style.
At a divisive time in our country’s history, Hay said, the series has served as a “cathartic and soothing process to make paintings of these people I was looking to for support. I wanted to paint people who I felt could help us navigate a way through.”
She has painted 17 portraits in the series to date. She will add another as part of her recognition from the AFCC. The piece will be unveiled on April 28, at the Chatham Orpheum Theater and will be auctioned off at the AFCC’s Prelude to Summer at the Hyannisport Club on June 9. A portion of the proceeds will go to benefit the AFCC’s work.
“This is such a wonderful surprise, and I’m absolutely blown away to be the AFCC’s first-ever Artist of the Year,” Hay said. “I’m delighted and tickled to know it is based on the Persisters series of paintings which means absolutely everything to me. It is acknowledging the importance of these paintings in a very different way from the amazing feedback I’ve already received for them.”
The AFCC will be featuring Hay as part of its four-part Modern Love series, which kicks off this month and runs through May. Sponsored by William Raveis Real Estate and Garrison Financial, LTD, the series highlights local artists and the studios where they create their work.
A native of Newcastle, England, Hay’s first career was in the publishing industry in New York City after receiving her bachelor’s degree from Middlesex University in London in 1983. Twenty years later, she purchased a house in Provincetown, eventually moving there in 2005.
In 2010, Hay went to graduate school at the New York Academy of Art, receiving her MFA two years later. She was the first recipient of the Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Foundation Grant, sponsored in part by the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. She was a finalist in Art For Freedom A Global Initiative curated by Madonna. And she was a main subject of the documentary She is Juiced by British director Lois Norman.
Her work can currently be seen at Womencrafts on Commercial Street in Provincetown. She is represented by Carolyn Kramer Gallery, which is owned by her partner, and Miller Gallery in Charleston, S.C.
Learn more about Hay’s work and her creative process during a virtual conversation Thursday, Feb. 23, at 5 p.m. More information at http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ej1p07eo7301334a&llr=xa9k89cab