“The oxygen of freedom…when freedom is in danger”

“The arts are the rain forests of society. They produce the oxygen of freedom, and they are the early warning system when freedom is in danger.” (June Wayne)

June Wayne was an American printmaker, tapestry designer, painter, educator, AND the founder of the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles which later moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Under the leadership of June Wayne, the Tamarind Workshop/Institute “rescued” lithography from becoming a forgotten medium and helped post WWII artists maintain and push artistic freedom forward through printmaking. June Wayne was a prolific printmaker and painter in her own right, but she also had a vision during the 1950s and 1960s that helped preserve a powerful medium from falling into disuse. Not only did Wayne and others who believed in her vision and joined Tamarind in the 1960s save printmaking, Wayne and Tamarind created the resurgence in printmaking in the United States AND throughout the world.

In the 1970s, Tamarind left Los Angeles and affiliated with the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, but Wayne’s founding precepts are still in place today at the Institute. Even though Wayne stepped down as the principal leader as she turned her boundless energies back to her studio, she remained an active participant and a close advisor to the workshop until her death in 2011.

Throughout much of Wayne’s studio career, this American printmaker and painter explored identity, surveillance, and human interaction. Wayne often collaborated with fellow printmaker James Ensor producing “macabre self-portraits”.

What are your thoughts on Wayne’s efforts to save, preserve, and resurrect printmaking as a viable medium and her lifeline interest in identity as a sustained avenue of artistic exploration?

June Wayne in her Studio
Logo for the Tamarind Institute
Wayne, Visa/Wednesday, 1976
Wayne, Ostend/Hollywood, 1992
Wayne/Ensor Collaboration, Nos Portraits, 1991

Published by: roberttracyphd

Academic professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. I teach theory courses in Art and Architecture History. In addition, I also curate exhibitions on campus as well as in other venues nationally and internationally.

31 Comments

31 thoughts on ““The oxygen of freedom…when freedom is in danger””

  1. I personally have heard about Tamarind Institute and Wayne. When I was in Junior year in High school I was wondering should I apply to Tamarind and to pursue BFA in the University of New Mexico. However, I quit to apply there and I decided to study at UNLV, but I want to go to Graduate school, and I might apply there. Moreover, about my thoughts of printmaking. I think that Tamarind Institute is the best printmaking institution in the United States and one of the best in the world. I think that Wayne has huge impact of the revival of the printmaking in the art world. Luckily, Tamarind continues to exist and the printmaking technologies continues to be teach to an artists, who are wiling to explore the processes of printmaking. The most famous printmaking technique is probably lithography. I took printmaking classes, and I know how hard is to create a printmaking work. I adore printmaking. Thankfully to Wayne, printmaking is valuable art process in the United States.

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  2. I think her efforts are honorable. Caring about a medium made it so she can ensure the techniques continues throughout time. I could never imagine something I care so deeply about going out of style and disappearing. Painting, drawing, and photography are so readily available, all it takes is a trip to the craft store or pulling out your phone! Printmaking is something I never tried because I don’t know where to begin! But because of her, people continue to use this process and enjoy creating through it.

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  3. I think Wayne’s efforts were well worth it. Prior to entering university, I had never known or considered printmaking as a potential medium. Now, as I’ve gotten the opportunity to print (lithography), it very quickly became possibly my favorite. It’s nice to see that Wayne saw the potential printmaking has as a medium. The process of printmaking gives pieces a whole new context, compared to if it were painted, etc. Wayne’s efforts to preserve printmaking as a viable medium allowed for future artists to explore printmaking and see how it affects their work.

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  4. I think it is great that Wayne put so much effort and passion into keeping her art form alive. I was first introduced into printmaking in high school and thought it was such an interesting and delicate medium. The precision and time needed to create these stamps that then produce more works of art is so crucial to the process. Her passion for the case has created a legacy for herself within the art world and printmaking world. I can imagine that in my lifetime there will be artists who will be fighting for other physical art forms that seem to be dying out.

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  5. I would have nothing but respect for Wayne’s dedicated efforts and passion to continue the preservation of printmaking. Not only should she be respected in preserving this practice, but the fact that she is a woman who fought this for us future artists and the world to continue using it deserves more recognition. Not only men fight for our rights or preservations of things, but women too and it deserves more recognition for what they have done for us. It is now especially important for small businesses who create merchandise through printmaking. Or even simply expressing themselves with this form of art in creating wonderful pieces with printmaking process. I have yet to use it myself but UNLV provides a class which I am looking forward to taking soon to go hands-on on how printmaking works!

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  6. Lizbeth Ramirez | Art 477

    I appreciate Wayne’s efforts to save, preserve, and resurrect printmaking as a viable medium. This kind of reminds me of film photography in a way, because If technology were to have taken over film, I would have never been able to find a medium that I love and enjoy. For me, more than anything I’m in love with the process of having to develop and print and I would assume that would be similar to that of printmaking. Similar in the sense of having a longer process or different techniques to produce results. It is such a different and more intimate process compared to technology that can produce results within minutes. Technology has its many benefits, but I’m glad that Wayne was able to preserve this style of printmaking, because she didn’t just save a medium but she saved an experience.

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  7. June Wayne was a champion of American Printmakers in my opinion. She rejuvenated an industry by creating artistic value. Her message was ahead of its time, and held true to the quote at the beginning of the article, “The oxygen of freedom…”. June Wayne’s example also generates discussion about past technologies such as painting and printmaking. It could be a misconception, that a time proven process will soon be replaced by something else. It is possible that the medium needs a restoration of value for future generations. When there is an opening for a brilliant printmaker or painter, there is always the opportunity to create something epic as June did.

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  8. Personally, I really appreciate Wayne’s efforts to save, preserve, and resurrect printmaking as a viable medium incorporating her lifeline interest in her own identity. Before reading this text, honestly, I was very pessimistic about maintaining a certain medium, especially in the form of art. I have always thought that art should always call out for freedom and innovation, always expected to create a change. However, from the reading, my beliefs have changed that as much as artists should shout out for freedom, they must also ask to “rescue” what has forgotten. Printmaking, or even other art forms that are respected now, would have not existed if nothing has existed or was banished throughout time. Also, a form of art that is used too much that it lacks in creative value, must also be respected in that it intends to perceive the artist’s own exploration.

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  9. As a viewer of art, I think its amazing. She decided to save what she loved which was another medium of art. I had no idea that this had happened and I am glad she did what she did. It is very honorable of her and Tamarind as well. Their interests and perseverance is shown with our admiration and adoration within their works of art. I am highly impressed.

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  10. I think Jane Wayne’s efforts in keeping printmaking practices alive and running is very admirable. For anyone to step up to the plate and be determined to teach others about a practice is challenging, but very rewarding in the end. This reminded me of the time I took GRC 350 last semester. The professor I had wanted to rewrite the whole agenda of the course and we were basically her guinea pig class. She was very determined to switch this class that was digital based with printing aspects into focusing a lot more on the physical process of printmaking. Due to covid, we were only able to do two assignments: carving stamps, which is a low relief project, and printmaking on fabric. I think having an understanding of the physical process of printmaking is a good foundation for any artist to have. You get to learn so much more about materials and how they interact with each other along with color interactions. Overall, I think it’s a great medium to learn and hand down to others.

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  11. Her passion and dedication to resurrecting an art form that had been set aside is inspiring. She stayed true to what she felt was her truest form of artistic expression and in doing so, reached a larger audience and other artists who followed in her footsteps. She made an art form that had been forgotten or ignored something new and exciting, creating unique and culturally relevant art pieces. She used printmaking as a means to explore her own identity as well as society at the time. She not only inspired and influenced artists around the world but also contributed to their education and artistic self-expression through her involvement with the Tamarind Institute. Just as other abstract artists did in their own time, Wayne challenged the bounds and limits of what an art piece was considered to be.

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  12. The first thought that comes to mind a graphic designer is how deeply rooted print making is within art as a whole, and the importance of it. I feel like specifically with Wayne, regardless of her own live for the medium, it was also about preserving a part of history. In these art history courses it always seems to be about the future and progression, which is partially the point of what we’re learning. But with Wayne I think it is being said to not forget our history, similar to the other aspect of these courses we take. Additionally, it shows Wayne’s love for art as whole and the need to not let any of it get pushed to the wayside thus being potentially lost.

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  13. I think that June Wayne’s efforts to preserve and resurrect printmaking as a medium is incredibly progressive even though the medium itself dates back so far. I believe that history repeats itself and the preserving the medium will eventually spark new creative generations to continue to use it. As a graphic designer myself working almost completely digitally, there is this aspect of working with a physical medium that I feel will never be able to be replicated in a digital sense. This is why I would believe that the medium of print making to live through especially through artist preservation like Wayne.

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  14. I had never heard of June Wayne before, but I am very grateful for her efforts in preserving printmaking and lithography. Exploring new mediums is one of my favorite things about being an artist. I only tried printmaking within the last year, and while it was difficult, I was very satisfying and I really appreciate the fact that I had that opportunity. While other mediums evolve and change, old ones are just as important to preserve the tradition.

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  15. I think it’s important for a medium to never die out. If it ever did, those in the future that research it and try to recreate it may never perfect the art again. This applies to any technique, such as cooking, dancing, etc, because they are forms of art as well that have been perfected by generations. Printmaking is a very popular art medium today (it’s even a major people can take in college like here at UNLV!) so to imagine it being gone, would people have to manually paint each layer or give up and go digitally? That would be a shame as it would not give the same authentic look of a cleanly painted print.

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  16. I think it is important to preserve old techniques in art, as it is a part of the heritage and history of art. This reminds me of film photography and how many people say it is a dying form of art and should be done away with. When in reality, film photography is what gave birth to digital photography and the techniques that are now used in photoshop. In such a digital age I think it is important to maintain these raw art techniques to preserve the integrity of art.

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  17. I really respect Wayne’s perseverance and respect for printmaking in keeping the art form alive all these years. Before entering college and taking classes on the art form I had no idea what printmaking was or what it was used for, and I imagine that sentiment was shared by many during the “dying period” it went through. After doing some printmaking myself I can see both why it was dying out and why it was so important to keep alive. The act of printmaking itself is very unique, and is able to produce works not possible in the other more regular mediums such as drawing or painting. At the same time, I think why it was losing its grip on the world was due to an increase of people not knowing where items likes shirts, prints, etc came from and assuming they were done simply with regular printers and of the basis of drawings and paintings.
    Also, I believe Wayne’s interest in identity is one shared by many artists, whether professional or not. Its a topic matter that can be very divisive to viewers and critics because the subject matter wont always land since it’s so personal, but at the same time it can be so diverse that it creates amazing works. In focusing on a subject matter like that you risk a lot and wont always get something in return, but it can also be one of the most impressive topics to tackle.

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  18. I find June Wayne’s effort to revive fine-art printing and lithography during her time very honorable and courageous. With everything she was able to accomplish in a time where it was on the brink of becoming forgotten, she left us with so much more than her body of work. Her uniqueness in approaching lithography shows that there are no limitations to how art can be created. I see this in her imagination and creativity to use lithography in her art from unique self-portraits to very intricate patterns. It truly attests to how great and versatile her artwork shown and the diligent research and courage she had to keep this form of art alive. Although I haven’t had a chance to have hands-on experience with lithography and printmaking, I still find it a very interesting and beautiful process that requires immense hard work and dedication. I can imagine how those who practice lithography feel when they see everything and the details of the final product that was made with every ounce of effort produced.

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  19. In regards to Wayne’s efforts to resurrect printmaking as a viable medium, I believe that the steps she took to achieve this goal is something worth looking up to. Having done printmaking in some of my classes, I can see why it may have had its lose ends. There are several steps and the process itself can take some time. However, the continued use of printmaking was rather important because it allowed for artists to mass produce their work and for collectors to more easily obtain their work, making Wayne’s efforts all the more worth pursuing. Even today with digital prints, I believe that there will still be something missing from the works, a kind of authenticity, harmony, and sometimes uniqueness towards individual prints that digital prints just won’t have.
    As for her interest in identity as a form of exploration in her work, for me, is something very natural and should be a part of what we call art. I believe that most artists find that they leave a part of themselves in the works that they make even towards today’s standards. To focus on identity is a rather natural way of exploring art, and to be able to do so in a sustained manner is a very admirable thing to do.

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  20. I think any artist would understand the endeavor to save a lost art form–whether it comes from a need for themselves to make a name for themselves, or from a genuine love from the art. This reminds me of an ancient candy-making art in Japan that had recently had a resurgence, and it reminds me of the forever constant struggle of our ideas of art, and how certain types of art are lost in time. It makes me wonder how much art we’ve lost over the years, and the lost skills that have slowly faded away over time.
    With the related idea of identity in artistic expression, I think all artists subconsciously place themselves into their art, so it is no wonder that it can become a point of interest for an artist such as Wayne.

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  21. I think that June Wayne’s efforts in saving and restoring printmaking is incredibly admirable and inspiring. She committed to what she felt most comfortable and expressive with and that was printmaking. Her sticking with her medium showed her love for it, and because of her, printmaking has reached a larger audience than it ever did before. She was able to make it more culturally relevant as well, making it adhere to the times with her as she grew older.

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  22. Annie Lin
    Her achievement is meaningful for printmaking. As of today, art departments still teaches lithography. It is an old, traditional method of printmaking that can be easily lost in the trends of history, and I am glad that I still have plenty of opportunities for learning this ancient technique. For other old craftsmanship, they are already starting to fade out. Soon, there will be no one to recognize or pass on the tradition. Wayne not only saved and resurrected lithography, she also preserved a piece of history that is important in art development.

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  23. I think, like most of my classmates that what June Wayne did for her medium and future artists taking an interest in it was incredibly inspiring. I have only tried printmaking once, and it was super fun yet also very difficult, and I know that it is now an art form that many people rely on in their businesses from being in the field for a few years. I think it is a very special thing for an artist to revive a lost art form for both those techniques and the heritage behind them; too many times I have seen in myself and others the desire to grow with the trends and leave things behind. However, Wayne decided it was something to fight for and there are many artists and clients appreciating that decision today.

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  24. I definitely respect Wayne’s efforts to keep printmaking alive in the art community, as I think every medium of artistic expression should continue to be used, even as we continue to advance technology and techniques. Sure, it may be more time consuming than digital printing, but the action of going through the more old-fashioned process not only took skill, but exemplified and added to the art itself. The process is as much a characteristic as the product, in my eyes. I feel as though her strong passion for expressing and exploring herself in this way attributes greatly to her legacy.

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  25. ART 477
    Due October 13, 2020

    Dear Professor Tracy,

    In many ways, I feel as though Wayne’s efforts to preserve and revive printmaking is not only admirable for one individual to attempt to achieve, but for her to succeed in such a manner is an inspiration. Many have followed in her footsteps into the field is astounding and inspiring.

    Wayne not only revived printmaking but in my opinion, she saved it. Wayne’s ability to start and guide future artists and printmakers as we move forward inspires and encourages me. Knowing that one woman could make such a contribution during her lifetime that would affect artists in the future is astounding, in my opinion.

    Furthermore, despite stepping down as a principal leader at the Tamarind Workshop/Institute, Wayne began focusing on her own body of work yet still found time to be a vital and integral participant/advisor to the workshop until her passing. What is so unique about Wayne’s efforts to save printmaking is that her love and respect for the medium speaks volumes about who she was as both a person and an artist. Wayne expressed interest in identity and further explored the avenue by her constant experimentation. She made new an old technique (printmaking), and by doing so, envigorated a dying form of art.

    In many ways, the exploration of identity became a sustained avenue, and her lifeline interest in identity defines Wayne. She frequently would alter her perspective of the world and, as such, ended up with a continually evolving collection of work, which enabled her the avenue of artistic exploration.

    Kindest regards,

    Sydney-Paige CeCe Kay

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  26. I feel that preserving old artistic mediums is super important especially now with how much technology we have. For example, I know that mediums such as knitting and crocheting are just starting to get popular again rather than being seen as a grandma hobby. I actually recently saw a video about how lace making is a dying hobby because not as many young people are getting into it. Making sure we hold on to the customs and traditions of the past is what is going to help us in the future.

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  27. Preserving old mediums, such as printmaking, are extremely important, especially within today’s heavy reliance on technology. Older artistic mediums can tend to get lost or underappreciated, but by continuing to teach and experiment with the older mediums artists can continue to keep the interest alive, preserved, and appreciated among artists. Other artists can continue to share and experiment with these mediums and develop new ways to use it in their works or influence others.

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  28. Sometimes people like art a lot that they feel the need to preserve it for others to see. However, years of preservation can make art loses its color and value. Therefore people feel the need to restore the artwork back to its former glory. which is what the artist is this question is doing despite what kind of art it really is.

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  29. I had no idea that the art of printmaking was almost completely done away with. It is amazing to see what Wayne did to bring printmaking up from the ashes and develop an institute that surrounds this medium. Looking at her pieces makes me wonder why this form of art could ever disappear because the pieces are absolutely amazing. This resurgence makes me think if any other techniques that may have gone extinct and could be brought back as well.

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  30. It’s really incredible what she did. Wayne’s effort to save the world from losing a major art media does not go unrecognized. She was right in the sense that the arts is the rainforest of society. Artists breathe life and creation into a highly uniforming and corporate world. But print making us unique and done by hand, piece by piece. If it disappeared, there would be one less avenue for artists to express themselves; humanity would lose a form of freedom.

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