2008 Honorees


June Claire Wayne

b. 1918 

Visual artist June Claire Wayne was born on March 7, 1918 in Chicago, Illinois.  she was raised as June Claire Kline by her divorced mother, Dorothy Alice Kline, a traveling corset saleswoman.  At age fifteen, June dropped out of high school, wanting to become an artist.

Avoiding the last names of both her parents, she used her first and middle names, June Claire, for her first solo exhibition in 1935 in Chicago, followed in 1936, by a second one at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. By 1938, June Claire was on the WPA Easel Project in Chicago and had become a ‘regular’ in a cutting-edge culture of writers, actors, artists, and scientists.

Circa 1939, she moved to New York, working as a designer of costume jewelry in the garment industry while continuing to paint at night and on weekends. In mid-1941, she married an Air Force Flight Surgeon and substituted his name, Wayne, for Claire. From then on her identity remained June Wayne even though that marriage did not endure.  When World War II began, she left New York for Los Angeles intending to work in the aircraft industry.  Instead, when a job opened in radio writing at WGN in Chicago she took it.  She scripted several programs a day. Production illustration infiltrated her aesthetic imagination resulting in signature works of optical art ("The Tunnel" and the Kafka series) starting in the mid 1940s.  Yet, her WGN experience honed her literary talent, resulting in influential essays on artist’s rights, art criticism, and feminism.

When WWII ended, June Wayne returned to Los Angeles to stay and became an integral part of the California art scene. She took up lithography at Lynton Kistler’s facility, meanwhile painting and exhibiting intensively. By 1957, she also had become a familiar artist in Paris, collaborating with Marcel Durassier, the great master printer.

In the early 1960’s she developed a plan to revitalize the art of lithography, which was floundering in the USA. The result was the Tamarind Lithography Workshop. By the late 1960s, Tamarind had become an international force in the printmaking arts. Wayne transformed the Workshop into the TAMARIND INSTITUTE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO. Her own lithographs are widely recognized as masterpieces of the medium.

In 1970, Wayne turned to designing tapestries in France. In them as in the rest of her art, she expressed her avant-garde linkage of art and science to issues of the times. In many media, optics, the genetic code, stellar winds, magnetic fields, tsunamis, and temblors appeared in her work, often linked to metaphors for the human condition such as the lemmings series, fables, justice and love.

June Wayne’s art is represented in many museum collections in the USA and abroad. She has received dozens of awards as well as honorary doctorates.