Write a Lonely Soldier by June Wayne

June Wayne (b. 1918) created the series’ 20 lithographs in collaboration with Ed Hamilton of Hamilton Press. Choosing among her mother’s possessions—photographs, newspaper articles, tax returns—and using a rich array of colors, Wayne conveys the challenges and successes her mother faced as an immigrant and female in the early part of the 1900s.

“Wayne’s poignant portrayal of her mother’s life in 20 freeze frames compels us to consider the lives of women in the earlier part of the 20th century. Dorothy’s decisions were not always hers to make alone, but in accordance with society’s conservative expectations of a divorced mother, a woman with a career, and an immigrant,” said NMWA Chief Curator Dr. Jordana Pomeroy who organized the exhibition.

By examining the dualities of her mother’s experience—tradition and progress, domesticity and vocation, marriage and divorce, ambition and lack of recognition—Wayne is able to present a portrait that promises to be familiar to many.

In "Write a Lonely Soldier," the personal and the historical dramatically collide. In its depiction of a wartime bride marrying a soldier she barely knows, the specific context of the print’s narrative is firmly established. Yet the white silhouette of the bride, subsumed by a muted rainbow of color, suggests the conflict between hope and unmet expectation that would later mark Dorothy’s marriage.

For "Delegate Dorothy," Wayne’s collage approach reinforces the personal experiences of her mother with respect to historical circumstances. An enlarged New York Times article, tinted blue, about the 1953 Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom congress in Paris frames the work. Yet what dominates the scene is the yellow-hued portrait of Dorothy and her female companions en route to the congress. Neither image would have as much force without the other, emphasizing the close relationship between private and public, historical and personal lives.

The biography of both artist and subject are closely intertwined. The Dorothy of the portfolio’s title faced many hardships as an immigrant, single mother, and career woman. Her tenacity has evidently been passed down to her daughter June, whose list of accomplishments include participating in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Easel Project in Chicago during the 1930s and founding the prestigious Tamarind Lithography Workshop 1960 in Los Angeles to train master printers.

At the heart of the series, Wayne explores a central question “Could my personal view of her [Dorothy] allow her voice to come through, just as writers tell stories in the voice of another person?” On display through the summer, viewers can decide for themselves how these two remarkable narratives interact.
Click to select the cover image for this artwork.
Imported from: pafa.org
Media: lithograph print