Pellissippi State instructor’s work selected in international photo competition

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Portrait of a man with short hair and a mustache wearing a light blue dress shirt with a blue striped tie.John Edwin May, who teaches photography at Pellissippi State Community College, is a first-round winner in ONWARD Compé, an international photography competition for emerging photographers.

Juried each year by a leading figure in contemporary photography, ONWARD Compé spotlights new work that pushes the boundaries of the medium.

Contest organizers compiled 2,100 submissions from 29 countries for the sixth annual competition. Guest juror Mark Steinmetz chose a total of 80 submissions, including one of May’s photographs. Steinmetz is a Guggenheim fellow whose has work in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, among others.

All first-round winners will be displayed in the online Galerie. May’s work will be printed in the exhibition catalog and will be considered for the ONWARD Summit exhibit in Philadelphia on April 12-14.

May chronicles a form of entertainment widely known in towns across America: wrestling. He starting photographing matches five years ago and attends about three a week in East and Middle Tennessee. He shared his commitment and interest with judges in a statement about his work.

“In this series I am investigating the simulacrum of small town entertainment known as wrestling,” May wrote. “The constructed reality fascinates me. This fantasy sport thrives on a small intimate scale just as the national version that fills stadiums. The spectator can interact with the performers as well as approach and meet at the end of the theatrical performance.”

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