May was born in 1951 in Ottawa, Canada, but grew up in Toledo, Ohio. Her earliest art experiences were drawing copies of Catholic holy cards which depict religious figures. As a child, May explored the field and woods around her home, establishing a deep affinity with nature which continues to nourish her art.
May studied classical technique in drawing and painting at the Schuler School of Fine Arts in Baltimore from 1985-86. She went on to study photography at Dundalk Community College in Baltimore, earning an AA degree in 1991. Photography has helped to hone May’s sensitivity to light, tonality, and composition, later expressed in her drawings. She received a BFA in 2003 and an MFA in 2006 from The School of Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. May has worked as an illustrator and in the 1990s owned and operated Art & Image a professional digital photography and restoration business. Working in pastel, her early series included drawings of maple seeds and a group of closely observed still lifes with a vanitas theme.
A formative experience in graduate school was a project in a drawing class involving a model, a prop, and a reproduction of a print, which in May’s case was Durer’s The Adoration of The Magi. What caught her eye in the print was a length of hanging rope, which she greatly enlarged in her own drawing. For May, the rope was a subject that was visually and technically engaging, and evocative of the human issues which she wanted to address in her work.
May’s work has been exhibited in the Pastel Society of America Annual Exhibition, New York; The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Navio Artisans Collective, New Bedford MA. Her work has been featured in four issues of Studio Visit Magazine. The Hawser Series of rope drawings along with the Hawser Details suite of photographs are currently on an eleven venue tour of university galleries and museums in the Eastern Seaboard and Southeast United States.