JO HAY - THE PERSISTERS

Jo Hay paints giant women who resist & persist

By Howard Karren, Provincetown Banner, October 12, 2018

 Jo Hay at work in her studio before her portrait of Emma Gonzalez, part of “The Persisters” exhibit (Photo: Ron Amato)

Jo Hay at work in her studio before her portrait of Emma Gonzalez, part of “The Persisters” exhibit (Photo: Ron Amato)

Over the last few years, artist Jo Hay has been painting a series of giant oil-on-canvas portraits of women, most of them 60 by 48 inches (five by four feet) and some 84 by 72 inches (seven by six feet), which she has called “The Persisters.”

In her statement for the series, Hay explains why: “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.”

Due to the recent Senate hearings over the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, Hay and her wife, gallery director Carolyn Kramer, have decided to hold a new show at Jo Hay Open Studio to celebrate “The Persisters.” For this new exhibit, Hay is painting a portrait of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who bravely accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when she was 15 and he was 17. The Ford painting was not ready to be photographed at press time, but the show will also include portraits by Hay of Hillary Clinton; MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory, racial justice activists and co-chairs of the 2017 Women’s March; Emma González, the eloquent senior at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who survived the mass shooting there and became a founder of the gun-control advocacy group Never Again MSD; and Cynthia Nixon, queer and progressive Democratic primary candidate for governor of New York. “The Persisters” will have an opening reception at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12, and will remain on view through Oct. 22.

“What has happened to the soul of the American people,” Kramer says by email, “when a woman who has been clearly sexually assaulted can be berated and ridiculed and taunted by the Commander in Chief of our country, while thousands of Americans cheer him on, waving signs of ‘Women for Trump’? There is a poison that is infiltrating through the veins of this country, a poison so deadly that it no longer matters that a man can become a Supreme Court Justice of the United States despite credible evidence that he tried to rape a 15-year-old child. To every Senator that voted yes to put Brett Kavanaugh on the bench: fuck you all. And to every woman or man who has been sexually assaulted: we will survive this dark time. Never give up hope. Resist and Persist.” — HK