Born in Quincy, Massachusetts, near Boston, May Stevens grew up in a working-class family. Women’s poverty and lack of opportunity, which she perceived in the environment surrounding her, strongly influenced her outlook on society. Stevens studied at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, the Art Students League in New York, and the Académie Julian in Paris. Combining her personal experience with political engagement, Stevens’s work focuses on the effects the late 20th century has had on our lives, especially those of women. She believes that artists have the possibility to use their art not just for personal expression, but for social and political commentary and activism as well. Stevens has been particularly identified with the feminist art movement of the 1970s and 1980s, and much of her work critiques women’s historical, political, and social conditions. Her recent creations have become increasingly lyrical and poetic and address themes of loss and absence.