May Mirin

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May Mirin (1900-1997) was an American photographer who documented life in Mexico.


May Mirin was born in New York in 1900. She first visited Mexico in 1937, then returned to the country frequently for long periods until the 1980s.[1] There she produced documentary and travel series,[2] contemporaneously with fellow Americans Jasper Wood, Wayne Miller and Canadian Reva Brooks,[3] at a time when pictures by few significant Mexican-born photographers, other than those by Lola and Manuel Alvarez Bravo, were known outside the country.[1]

Mirin's images and writing featured in popular mid-century American photography magazines.[4][5]


In 1955, one of her photographs of a candlelit religious devotion in Mexico[6] was chosen by Edward Steichen for the exhibition The Family of Man that he curated for MoMA, and which toured the world and was seen by over 9 million visitors.[7] She was among the numbers of its participating photographers remembered by Helen Gee as frequenting her Limelight gallery, New York City's first important post-war photography gallery (1954-1961).[8]

Later life[edit]

During the 1970s she took up painting and volunteered for the American Museum of Natural History.[9]


Examples of May Mirin's photographic work are held in the permanent collections of the Museum Folkwang in Essen, MoMA and Clerveaux Castle, Luxembourg.


  1. ^ a b Rodríguez, José Antonio (2012), Fotó-grafas en México, 1872-1960, Turner, ISBN 978-84-939478-5-9
  2. ^ Travel and Camera, Volume 16 U.S. Camera Publishing Corporation, 1953, p.58
  3. ^ Hopkinson, A. (2001). 'Mediated Worlds': Latin American Photography. Bulletin of Latin American Research, 20(4), 527.
  4. ^ May Mirin "Poetry with a Camera" Classic Photography #5 (Autumn 1957)
  5. ^ Photographers Showplace, v.1, n.2, Dec 1956.
  6. ^ Córdova, Carlos A. “Steichen: Retratos de familia”. Luna Córnea. 23 (2002): 130-137
  7. ^ Steichen, Edward; Steichen, Edward, 1879-1973, (organizer.); Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967, (writer of foreword.); Norman, Dorothy, 1905-1997, (writer of added text.); Lionni, Leo, 1910-1999, (book designer.); Mason, Jerry, (editor.); Stoller, Ezra, (photographer.); Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) (1955), The family of man : the photographic exhibition, Published for the Museum of Modern Art by Simon and Schuster in collaboration with the Maco Magazine CorporationCS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  8. ^ ”I was so happy so many were coming around, some in fact making Limelight their ‘home’; Arthur Lavine, Lew Parrella, Leon Levinstein, May Mirin, Louis Stettner, David Vestal, Hella Hammid, Simpson Kalisher, Morris Jaffe…” Helen Gee (1997) Limelight: a Greenwich Village Photography Gallery and Coffeehouse in the Fifties: A Memoir. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico. ISBN 978-0826318176.
  9. ^ mentioned in American Museum of Natural History in-house magazine Grapevine Vol XXIX, No.3 as “May Mirin-photographer of merit and Sunday painter”