Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Printmaking Pioneer Does It Her Way

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Printmaking Pioneer Does It Her Way

Article excerpt

Despite a life that nearly spans this century, artist June Wayne is not nostalgic. This is not to say the past doesn't inform her art: One of her most important works, "The Dorothy Series," (1975-79), memorializes her mother's life.

What the lack of a backward longing really means for this diminutive modernist - widely credited with reviving the art of printmaking - is that she has a firm grasp on the issues that shake her world, from politics to science, in the late 1990s.

On a cool but bright morning in her studio on Tamarind Avenue in Hollywood, her home and workplace for decades, this Los Angeles- area legend is more interested in former White House intern Monica Lewinsky's role in history than her own. "I see {women like Ms. Lewinsky} as pawns," she muses as she gives a tour of her large, neat workplace. "I've seen this sort of thing played out on a political front in the same way with artists," she continues, segueing into a discussion of the many ways in which she has contributed to what she calls the "ecology" of art in this country. "I'm interested in what creates an environment in which the arts can grow," says the artist, feminist, and social activist about all her political forays, from testifying on behalf of the Work Projects Administration in 1939 to in recent years decrying the efforts of Sen. Jesse Helms (R) of North Carolina and others to dismantle the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Though she supports government funding for the arts, Ms. Wayne is also a firm believer in the need for self-sufficiency as an artist, a credo to which her life is testimony. Growing up without a father and leaving home to become an artist in her teens, she has always been dedicated to finding her own path, personally and professionally. For instance, while she rejects gender politics, she has always supported women's right to equal job access and pay, even going so far as to sponsor workshops on the problems of women artists. She maintains that these ideas need to be discussed beyond the artistic community in the general American culture. "The NEA is a symbol," she says, adding that without it, the larger principle of the importance of art in public life is lost. …

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