Robert C. May: The Photographer

Jan 25 2020 to Oct 24 2020
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R.C. May photograph

The name Robert C. May is intricately connected to photography at UK.  He left an endowment that funds a prestigious annual lecture series as well as the ongoing purchase of photography for the museum. His collection of about a hundred works by some of the best-known photographers of the twentieth century are essential to the museum’s holdings. What is easy to overlook is that Bob May was an ardent and talented photographer himself, who left us a large collection of his own work. A small selection is included in this exhibition.

May earned a history degree at UK and worked for eleven years in the university’s Agriculture Information Department, and then for a decade in audio-visual production at IBM. He was an adjunct faculty member at UK, teaching photography practice and history. But the major influence on creative production was the Lexington Camera Club. He and Ralph Eugene Meatyard took classes with Van Deren Coke there, and the trio would go out on photography expeditions together. May became close friends with Meatyard and continued to photograph with him, even after Coke left to pursue a career as an influential known photography curator.

This exhibition includes examples three major areas of his work: nature studies, urban imagery, and constructed photography.

image credit: Robert C. May, Loom and Needle Garden Figure, Corner of Esplanade and East Short, Lexington, Kentucky, 1954, gelatin silver print. Collection of the UK Art Museum, bequest of Robert C. May

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