Jo Hay is a contemporary British American portrait painter. Born in 1964 in Newcastle Upon-Tyne, England, she received her BA from Middlesex University, London, UK in 1983 and her MFA from the New York Academy of Art, NY, NY, 2012.
Hay was the first recipient of the Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Foundation Grant 2010 sponsored in part by the Provincetown Art Association and Museum and the recipient of the New York Academy of Art Portrait Scholarship 2011. Her portrait from the Benders series entitled Dodger was a semi-finalist in the BP Portrait Award 2015 at the National Gallery in London and was a finalist in Art For Freedom A Global Initiative curated by Madonna.
Hay was also the main subject of a documentary She is Juiced by British director Lois Norman. It was screened at Tate Modern in 2017 as part of the ground-breaking Queer Britain exhibition and the London Pride launch 2017. The film has received outstanding reviews and won best documentary at both the New Renaissance Film Festival in Amsterdam and Brighton Rocks film festival in Brighton, UK.
Her work has been featured in numerous publications including Charlestown City Paper, Provincetown Arts Magazine, The Boston Globe, Time Out NY, Provincetown Banner, Provincetown Magazine, and Artists of the South.
She Is listed in The Top 100 Figurative Painters Working Right Now, 2018 by Didi Menendez, BuzzFeed.
Hay currently lives and works in Provincetown MA.
The overarching theme of my recent portraits is the acknowledgment of human courage.
Persisters is an ongoing series of large-scale portrait paintings representing trailblazing women in their pursuit of justice. The women featured are modern, complex, and as tenacious as they are valiant, challenging the present political climate with renewed energy in this particularly arduous time for women.
Hillary Clinton was the original inspiration for the series when she became the first female democratic candidate for President of the United States in 2016. This portrait began the series simply as a celebration of the achievements of a particular woman. But as the set of Persisters paintings has grown, I also want to represent the women as the multi faceted leaders they are by focusing on the psychological aspects of each woman while recognizing their courageous stance in the modern political sphere. As a whole, the series approaches politics from a humanitarian angle, which I feel is inherently female.
I make large-scale formal portraits in an effort to magnify and honor the endeavors and accomplishments of these female champions in the way that white men have been revered for theirs throughout the history of portraiture. Each portrait serves the purpose of keeping these women prominent and recognized, but also represents my own personal navigation through the modern political climate.
Wishing to examine our psychological and biological perception of ‘male’ and ‘female’, the Benders series portrays individuals who do not choose to be labeled either male or female but instead describe themselves as gender fluid—they experience and express an innate sense of both sexes. Since childhood, when I first witnessed the flamboyantly styled androgynous members of UK glam rock bands of the 1970’s and later the drag queens and transsexuals on the streets in 1990’s NYC, I have been captivated and delighted by the visual and emotional confusion that gender duality produces.