and the ants thought they were the center of the universe ...
Ealy Mays was born January 15, 1959 in Wichita Falls Texas, but raised in Dayton, Ohio. After graduation from High School Mays attended Wiley College in Marshal, Texas and Meharry Medical School. In 1985 he went on to study at the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara School of Medicine (UAG) in Mexico. He believed that this choice would allow him to pursue his education while indulging his passion for art. Mays was also a recipient of the "Camille Cosby Fellowship for American Artists of African Descent."
While in Mexico, Ealy Mays met celebrated Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo who took notice of his work and became a mentor. According to Mays, Tamayo would be the inspiration for his signature watermelon paintings. Rufino Tamayo painted red watermelons (sandias) and Mays perfected blue. Mays also became familiar with the works of legendary Mexican muralists José Clemente Orozco and Diego Riviera, whose art on extremely large surfaces and murals impressed him. He often participated in the annual José Clemente Orozco Art competition.
After returning from Mexico, Mays was accepted for a residency at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. Colleagues in residence included fellow artist Anish Kapoor, video artist Gary Hill, photo-artist Nan Goldin, and Jacob Lawrence. Lawrence would later befriend, mentor, and provided a letter of recommendation for Mays, to exhibit at the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Ealy Mays moved to Paris in 1996 where he currently resides. As an expatriate, Mays believed that Paris could provide him a platform without ostracism or social stigma for his type of work.
Legendary painter Henry O. Tanner was the first African American to exhibit at the Louvre in 1897. Mays’ 2005 “Migration of the Superheroes” exhibition at the Carrousel du Louvre makes him one of the few African-American artists to date to follow Tanner’s footsteps to the Louvre. Mays counts Jacob Lawrence, Jackson Pollock, Maxfield Parrish, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, Rufino Tamayo, Herbert Gentry, Edward Clark (artist), and Franz Kline, as mentors.
His work has been exhibited in Mexico's Galeria Clava, Paris Carrousel du Louvre Mexico's annual José Clemente Orozco Art competition, and New York’s Guggenheim museum, to name a few.