May Perkins Benton

Jackson, Mississippi

Born and raised in Jackson, MS, I loved growing up in Mississippi and my Southern roots have kept me grounded and inspired throughout my life. After attending JA for elementary and Jackson Prep for high school, I went to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) where I earned a BFA in Photography and a minor in Art History.

After college I moved to California to continue my photographic aspirations and it was in the awe-inspiring city of San Francisco that I met my amazing husband, Matt. We loved living in California but eventually decided to move to Jackson to be closer to family and friends. Fondren has been home to us and our two dogs for the past twelve years.

My images are created using the photographic process called Mordancage’. This process was invented by the late French photographer, Jean Pierre Sudre, in the 1960s. It is an acid solution consisting of copper chloride, glacial acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide. The process begins by making a photogram using native Mississippi plants and flowers that have been gathered throughout the seasons. Once I have arranged my plant compositon, I process the photogram in my darkroom using standard photographic chemicals. After the print has been fixed and washed, the Mordancage’ process can begin. The acid solution literally “lifts” the silver gelatin from the solid black areas of the photogram and the gelatin can be manipulated in many unique ways. The process leaves behind a striking texture and metallic property unlike any other photographic process.

I was taught the Mordancage’ process by Professor Craig Stevens while taking Advanced Black and White Printmaking at SCAD. Professor Stevens studied and mentored under Jean Pierre Sudre for decades. He would translate for Sudre, who could not speak English, during his workshops in the beautiful town of Aix in the south of France. Sudre passed away in 1997 but I did have the pleasure of going to his home and meeting his wonderful wife, Claudine, while attending the SCAD Italy/France summer quarter abroad.

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