Aspen Mays was raised in Charleston, SC. She received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009 and a BA in Anthropology and Spanish from The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2004. Mays joined CCA in 2015, and she is an Associate Professor in Graduate Fine Arts and Undergraduate Photography.
In her photographic work, Mays has been called a “Postmodern mystic.” Her work challenges the expectation of photography as a documentary and categorical medium, and her research explores the visualization of knowledge in both visual art and observational sciences. She is interested in the fantasy of objectivity in photographic processes, the artifacts and archives of these processes, and the desire for transcendence in the ordinary and prosaic.
Her solo exhibitions include Tengallon Sunflower and California Dreaming at Higher Pictures in New York; Every leaf on a tree at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Newspaper Rock at Light Work in Syracuse, New York; and Ships that Pass in the Night at the Center for Ongoing Projects and Research (COR&P) in Columbus, OH. She was included in the national survey of Contemporary Art in the United States, State of the Art, at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Her work has been written about in Art Forum, Art Papers, the New Yorker and the New York Times. She is represented by Higher Pictures.
Honors include a Rotary Fellowship in 2006, where Mays studied photography in Cape Town, South Africa while volunteering in a clinic for bead working artisans living with HIV. Mays was a 2009-2010 Fulbright Scholar in Santiago, Chile, where she spent time with astrophysicists using the world’s most advanced telescopes to look at the sky. Her publication (made in collaboration with Dan Boardman) Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going, Why? was shortlisted for the First Photobook Award by the Aperture Foundation and Paris Photo in 2016.
BA, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; MFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago