the split hairs of narrative art

Dan May is a fine artist currently living in Northern Michigan. A native of Rochester, NY, Dan attended Syracuse University where he achieved a BFA and began to immediately pursue his artistic interests.[1] He was featured in publications such as Hi Fructose Magazine (Vol. 9, USA, 2008), Dangerous Ink (Issue 4, UK, 2010) or Dark Inspiration – Victionary (Hong Kong, 2010). His works are imbued with story, making him a representative of narrative art who chose surrealism as a form of expression. Today, we’ll take a look at his latest portfolio, enriched with some of the oneiric magic we seek to brighten even the most uneventful of days.  

                The things that address one’s imagination are the things one cherishes most, for deep down – although some believe that “this is the best of all possible worlds“, we’re all curious and hungry for novelty: a novelty that can be explored, understood and that can nourish us.

Imagine for a moment that “the world that is” is only a prelude to a world that could be: full of wonder and magic, full of things that haven’t yet crossed your path. The two worlds now cohabiting before the mind’s eye are highly unequal (one believed to be preternal, the other a brittle new-born of last moment’s imagination), but one feels drawn to exploring both.

So far, one knows that the two worlds stem from the same source (momentary perception), but the rest is an every moment’s history of what could be, an alternative with similar causality.

What would you populate this alternate universe with?

M. May populated his world with velveteen creatures, or with girls with long, silky hair. He populated his world with owls, beautiful, big, white owls that calmly flap their wings instilling a dreamlike décor.

Sting of the Season by Dan May

Possibly his most intriguing choice, he decided that his world will have no ordinary ground, but instead it will have dense and anaesthetising hair, a metaphor really, for greater aspects of humanity, a different view over what is safe and what simply is.  And with his choices, the artist told a story.

The Reunion by Dan May

“Good story” means something worth telling that the world wants to hear. Finding this is your lonely task. It begins with talent (…) and a lot of love.

But the love of a good story, of terrific characters and a world driven by your passion, courage, and creative gifts is still not enough. Your goal must be a good story well told.[2]

There is a difference though, between carving worlds made out of words and carving worlds made out of image. For one, whilst the storyteller tells his story over time (in a diachronic fashion), the narrative artist creates pictures that are all seen at once (in a synchronic fashion). This allows for episodic events to be conveyed faster to the viewer, while leaving an imprint over the primary sense of man: his sight. And whilst it might seem an easier task, it really isn’t: for the mind’s eye holds the key to portraits that stem from within, whereas the hand must replicate them in a way that speaks to those without – a wordless task that this artist addresses well.

Moon Walk by Dan May

                Out of all current types of narrative art, M. May’s latest works seem to prefer that of the monoscenic narrative, leaving the door ajar for the viewer, who can catch a glimpse of the artist’s soul.  This glimpse will be later used as inspiration for yet another different world that conjures a different story: a story that happens in the viewer’s mind.

Th eOffering by Dan May

For more of M. May’s work, visit his website.


[1] Quote from the artist’s About page.

[2] McKee, Robert – Story, Chapter I – The story problem, p.21, Regan Books, 1997.

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