Cynthia Hopkins

Musical Performance Artist
Born Fitchburg, MA, 1972
Lives in Brooklyn, NY

Photo by Jeff Sugg.

The award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts helped me to bring [two new] works to fruition primarily by alleviating financial anxiety, and thus allowing me to concentrate my time and energy on these creative endeavors... I am delighted with these works, and they have been well received by critics, the public, and the commissioning venues. Without the support of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, it is doubtful these works would have been possible at all... Thank you for granting me freedom from debt and financial anxiety, and thus allowing me to devote my time and energy where they belong: on the creation of new and exciting works of musical performance art.


Cynthia Hopkins is a musical performance artist. Hopkins writes and sings songs, records albums, and creates multi-media performance works that intertwine truth and fiction, blurring the lines between edification and entertainment. Through the process of making performances, she “attempts to alchemize disturbance into works of intrigue and hope that simultaneously stimulate the senses, provoke emotion, and enliven the mind." Hopkins also works as a performer and composer for hire; in 2014 she appeared in the Big Dance Theater piece Alan Smithee Directed This Play at Brooklyn Academy of Music.

With the support of her 2015 FCA grant, Hopkins completed two new works: an exhibit of five memorial quilts and one requiem in honor of five deceased musical performance works titled Memorabilia at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia (2015) and a new musical performance work created and performed in collaboration with video artist Jeff Sugg titled The Alcoholic Movie Musical! that premiered at The Bushwick Starr (2015).

Prior to receiving her 2015 Grants to Artists award, Hopkins had produced six performance works: Accidental Nostalgia (2005), Must Don't Whip 'Um (2007), The Success of Failure (or, The Failure of Success) (2009), The Truth: A Tragedy (2010), This Clement World (2013), and A Living Documentary (2014). These works premiered at venues such as New York Live Arts, Les Subsistances in Lyon, France, the Walker Art Center, and St. Ann's Warehouse. They were also performed at venues such as Mt. Tremper Arts, REDCAT, Soho Repertory Theater, On the Boards Festival, the Wexner Center for the Arts, and the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, among others.

Hopkins has also produced eight albums of original music: Gloria Deluxe (1999), Hooker (2000), Devotionals (Songs for Shunkin) (2001), Alas Alack (2002), Accidental Nostalgia (2005), Must Don't Whip 'Um (2008), The Success of Failure (or, The Failure of Success) (2009), and The Truth: A Tragedy (2010). Her band Gloria Deluxe (1999-2009) developed an enthusiastic following for its blend of folk, cabaret, rock, blues, and country music, producing multiple albums and performing hundreds of concerts, opening for artists such as David Byrne and Patti Smith.

Subsequent to her Grants to Artists award, Hopkins received a 2015 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. Prior to her 2015 FCA support, Hopkins received a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie" Award for the Creation of Accidental Nostalgia (2005), the Alpert Award in Theater (2007), and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship (2010).

Hopkins received her B.A. from Brown University in 1995.

Artist Statement

I consider myself a storyteller whose multi-layered stories—addressing relevant social issues through a deeply personal lens, and incorporating elements of documentary-like truth as well as extravagant fiction—require a multi-faceted structure to be communicated. Whatever enrages, disturbs, and/or frightens me most becomes the subject of my work. My creative process is a survival technique, which alchemizes a combination of inner and outer (personal and socio-political) demons into works of intrigue and hope, for the audience and for myself. Through the integration of my work as a writer, composer, and performer, I strive to investigate new forms of theatrical narrative, and thereby to create a unique communication with my audience; one, which provokes emotion, stimulates the senses, and enlivens the mind. My goal is to obscure the distinctions between edification and entertainment through the creation of works as philosophical as they are entertaining, as intellectually challenging as they are viscerally emotional, as deeply comical as they are tragic, and as historically aware as they are immediately engaging.

December 2014