June Wayne was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1918. From a very early age, she was interested in art, recognizing the dots of color in comic strips at the age of five. When she was only nine, Wayne began illustrating the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a project that would occupy her into her late teens.
In 1934, Wayne took and passed the entrance examinations to the University of Chicago, though she did not enter. In 1935 she had a solo show of paintings at the Boulevard Gallery in Chicago and, as a result, was invited by the Mexican Government to paint in Mexico. At the age of eighteen, Wayne had a well-received exhibition at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.
In the five years that followed, Wayne worked in the art galleries of Marshall Field and Company in Chicago, on the easel project of the Works Progress Administration Art Project, as a costume jewelry designer and stylist in New York City and as a writer for WGN radio in Chicago. By 1950, she was working almost exclusively as an artist. By 1958, when Wayne acquired her Tamarind Art Studio in Los Angeles, California, she was a highly respected artist in the United States.
In 1959, worried about the state of lithography in this country, Wayne wrote a proposal to the Ford Foundation requesting support to restore lithography by training master- printers to work with American artists. In 1960 she was granted $165,000 to test her plan and in 1962 she was awarded $400,000 more. In 1965 she received an additional $700,000 to maintain the workshop through 1970. Under Wayne’s direction, the Tamarind Lithography Workshop became one of the biggest influences in the revival of printmaking in this country.
In 1969 Wayne prepared to transfer the workshop to the University of New Mexico and began collaborating with French tapestry weavers. Wayne has since continued to stretch the limits of all art media, always creating new forms and techniques. Wayne found inspiration in the feminist movement that, in some ways, validated the path of her career.