Brewster photographer Julia Cumes, Orleans singer Jordan Renzi and Provincetown playwright Myra Slotnick selected for AFCC Fellowship
July 3, 2017 (Hyannis, MA) – The Arts Foundation of Cape Cod (AFCC) has selected its three artists – Brewster’s Julia Cumes, Orleans’s Jordan Renzi, and Provincetown’s Myra Slotnick – for this year’s fellowship.
Cumes was selected as a Visual Arts Fellow, Renzi as a Performing Arts Fellow, and Slotnick as a Written Word Fellow. The trio is emblematic of the wide range of creative opportunities that abound on the Cape; Cumes is a photographer, Renzi is a singer/songwriter, and Slotnick is a playwright.
AFCC Executive Director Julie Wake said they were representative of this year’s submissions. “The applications we received this year were diverse and crossed all mediums,” she said. “It motivates me to raise more funds so we can add to the fellowships we offer because clearly there is a need based on the talent we have here.”
In only its third year, the AFCC’s Fellowship Program provides meaningful support to Cape Cod artists that are making an impact through their creative work. Applicants are judged by an anonymous jury of their peers who live as close as Cape Cod and as far away as Los Angeles. Each of this year’s fellows will receive $1,500 to use to further their artistic vision.
Cumes, who has lived on Cape Cod for the past 16 years, has had an interest in photography since she was a teenager growing up in apartheid-era South Africa. Her earliest work, she said, was focused on “photographing women and girls. It was sort of my way of seeing the world through the lens of the camera and understanding identity in this world.”
Cumes’ photographs have been featured in a variety of local, regional, and national publications including the Cape Cod Times, Cape Cod Magazine, New York Times, Boston Globe, and National Geographic. She holds a bachelor’s from Brandeis University, an MFA in writing from Cornell University, and a master’s in photojournalism from Syracuse University.
While photography has taken her around the globe – Kenya, Cuba, India, and Tanzania, to name a few countries – Cumes will use her fellowship to conduct a portrait series of women impacted by cancer here on the Cape. “We [Cape Cod] have a 20 percent higher rate of breast cancer than the rest of the country,” Cumes said. “This fellowship empowers me to work on this project and it gives me affirmation that this series is something interesting to people and important to our lives.”
A 2011 graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Renzi is a relative neophyte when it comes to singing and songwriting. She began performing at open mics the same summer she received her college degree. It was that summer she wrote her first song, “September”, which would find its way onto her first EP of the same name that came out in 2014.
Renzi’s star has quickly risen since those early days. In January 2014, she was chosen to play at Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s inaugural ball at the Hynes Auditorium in Boston, where she performed after the Dropkick Murphys’ set. Two years later, Renzi’s second EP, “Featherbed Lane”, was released, receiving national and international airplay on over 40 stations.
Last year, she was named female vocalist of the year by Limelight Magazine. This past spring, she was the grand prize winner of the regional Eventide Songwriting Competition. She is a familiar face at a number of local venues, including Harvest Gallery Wine Bar in Dennis, Flying Fish Café in Wellfleet, and Karoo in Eastham.
“To me this fellowship is very validating which of course, as artists and musicians, we are constantly seeking,” said Renzi, who plans on using her funds towards the production and release of her third EP later this year. “The Cape is a great place to be an artist. There are things you can do here as an emerging artist you can’t do in other places. And I think, more and more, we are being given the tools to make a living for ourselves because, at the end of the day, we all have to do that.”
A member of the Dramatists Guild, Slotnick arrived in Provincetown in 2002 by way of New York and Los Angeles “and many places in between,” she said. “I first laid eyes here in 1986 and I knew then I would end up here one day.”
Since fulfilling that dream, Slotnick has made her mark as a playwright whose work is being produced throughout the country. She started writing short plays, several of which have been performed at Provincetown Theater. She used her guile to create the Universal Theater, a three-day short-play festival that took place every winter, drawing writers, actors and directors from across the country to Provincetown.
Her first full-length play, “The Weight of Water”, premiered at Provincetown Theater in 2011. It focused on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and had an off-Broadway run two years later. She has since written three additional plays – “The Beachcomber Boys” about Provincetown’s artist colony; “The Children of Desire” about the offspring of “A Streetcar Named Desire”; and “The Shadow Child” about a family in 1960s Brooklyn that survived the Holocaust – that have had readings or been workshopped both on- and off-Cape.
She is in the midst of writing a new piece that she called “the dreaded Thanksgiving 2016 dinner table play” that deals with the aftermath of last year’s presidential election.
As for her AFCC Fellowship, Slotnick was ecstatic. “It means a lot,” she said. “It really is such an honor to be supported by a prestigious arts organization and acknowledged, not only creatively, but financially for your work.”
The mission of the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod is to support, promote, and celebrate the arts and culture of Cape Cod in order to sustain a vibrant, diverse and strong arts community.