June Edmonds uses abstract painting to explore how color, repetition, movement, and balance can serve as conduits to spiritual contemplation and interpersonal connection to her African-American roots. Exploring the psychological construct of skin color or tone through pattern and abstract painting has proven to be a revealing gesture and these ideas are explored in her two ongoing series: the Energy Wheel Paintings inspired by her meditation practice and her Flag Paintings, which explore the alignment of multiple identities such as race, nationality, gender, or political leanings.
June Edmonds was born 1959 in Los Angeles, where she lives and works. Edmonds received her MFA from Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, and a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University. She also attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and is the recipient of a 2018 City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Grant (COLA) and Exhibition at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery; a California Arts Council Individual Artist Grant; Paducah Artist Residency in Kentucky; Helene Wurlitzer Foundation artist residency in Taos, NM; and Dorland Mountain Community artist residency in Temecula, CA. Edmonds has exhibited at the California African American Museum, the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Luckman Fine Art Gallery at CalState Los Angeles, Watts Tower Art Center in Los Angeles, CA; Angels Gate Art Center in San Pedro, CA; and the Manhattan Beach Art Center in Manhattan Beach, CA. Edmonds has completed several works of public art with the city of Los Angeles and the Department of Cultural Affairs, including an installation at the MTA Pacific Station in Long Beach, CA. Her paintings are held in collections throughout the United States including the Davis Museum, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA; California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA; David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State University, Muncie, IN; The Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, OH; as well as Rodney M. Miller Collection, New York, NY; Michael Rubel Collection, Los Angeles, CA: David Rogath Collection, Greenwich, CT; and Kelly Williams Collection, New York, NY, among others.
US artist June Edmonds has been named the inaugural winner of the $10,000 Aware Prize at the Armory Show. Presented by the Paris-based nonprofit Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions, (Aware), the juried award goes to one female artist whose work is shown as a solo booth presentation within the fair’s Galleries section.
The Armory Show in New York is partnering with the Paris nonprofit Archives of Women Artists: Research and Exhibitions (AWARE) on a new juried award. The AWARE Prize will recognize the best booth dedicated to a solo presentation of a female artist, awarding $10,000 to the artist or her estate. The shortlisted artists are Yuko Nasaka (1939–, Japan) with Belgium’s Axel Vervoordt Gallery; Rina Banerjee (1963–, India) with Galerie Nathalie Obadia of Paris and Brussels; Aase Texmon Rygh (1925–2019, Norway) with Oslo’s OSL Contemporary; Alexis Smith (1949–, US) with Garth Greenan Gallery in New York; and June Edmonds (1959–, US) with Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.
The $10,000 Aware Prize for solo presentation by women artists was awarded to June Edmonds, whose politically charged paintings were represented at the fair by Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.
June Edmonds’s Flag Paintings explore the American flag as a symbol of ideals, promises, and identity. Each flag is associated with the narrative of an African American, past or present. Edmonds explores the psychological construct of skin color, utilizing the primary colors of brown skin tones to build symbols of American identity that reflect the broader changes in the racial and ethnic makeup of the country's population and the ideals and promises enshrined in the Constitution.
June Edmonds’ dark, seemingly abstract paintings at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles (Booth 827, Pier 94) are actually based on flags and their palettes are derived from a spectrum of black and brown skin complexions.
Additionally, the inaugural edition of the $10,000 Aware Prize for solo presentations by women artists—presented by the Paris-based nonprofit AWARE (Archives of Women Artists, Research, and Exhibitions) in partnership with the Armory Show—was given to June Edmonds, whose work at the fair is presented by the Los Angeles-based gallery Luis De Jesus. Edmonds is known for abstract paintings that explore race, gender, and politics, and the prize was juried by a cast including AWARE co-founder Camille Morineau, writer and curatorial activist Maura Reilly, and Swiss Institute director Simon Castets, among others.
The first-ever winner of the Armory Show's AWARE Prize is artist June Edmonds. The $10,000 juried prize was given for the excellence of the artist’s work and for the Luis de Jesus Los Angeles gallery’s courage to present a solo-female artist’s work in a market that has systematically undervalued art made by women. The prize's short list of five finalists also included Rina Banerjee, Yuko Nasaka, Aase Texmon Rygh and Alexis Smith. AWARE co-founder Camille Morineau said, “Edmonds was unanimously selected by the jurors, who coalesced around the discovery of her new Flag Paintings—a breakthrough body of never-before seen work by the artist presented by Luis de Jesus Los Angeles at this year’s Armory Show.”
As the kick off to the 2020 edition of the Armory Show edges closer and closer, the fair has announced a new art prize to add to its list of juried awards. The AWARE Prize, which will be presented for the first time this March, will deliver a $10,000 prize to one deserving female artist, or the artist’s estate, whose works will be exhibited in a solo presentation in the Galleries section of the Armory Show.
The artists shortlisted for the prize, funded by French nonprofit AWARE, are Yuko Nasaka, Rina Banerjee, Aase Texmon Rygh, Alexis Smith, and June Edmonds. The perception that art made by women is less valuable is one that the French nonprofit Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions (AWARE) seeks to correct. For the 2020 Armory Show, the international art fair held every year in New York City, AWARE will recognize a solo booth of a woman artist by a gallery at the fair with a $10,000 award to either a living artist or her estate.
When tasked with defining America, the forefathers of this country attempted to create a union that, though forged in rebellion to an oppressive regime, was ultimately funded by slave labor. By declaring this land a union where all men are created equal, only to deny representation and basic civil liberties to all who are not white men, the framers of our constitution bequeathed to us a contradiction that we are still working to correct today. Almost 250 years later, with the divisive nature of our political system and a multitude of bifurcation points within each party, it seems that defining the American identity has become nearly impossible.
A flag, any flag, is the very definition of a symbol, a thing that exists in the service of what it represents, such as a nation for example, or a movement. At the same time, a flag is also a color story, a designed image, and a made object. The American flag in particular enjoys status as both image and object as well as symbol. Its distinct patterns are perhaps the most recognizable and narratively fraught in the world. Laws prohibit its physical destruction, but not its use as elements of corporate logos, fashion items, and superheros.
Jasper Johns famously attributed the origin of his iconic painting of the American flag to a vision he had at night; likewise, June Edmonds arrived at her first stroke-by-stroke reconstitution of a flag through a dream she had in 2017, after she returned to her home town of Los Angeles from a residency in Paducah, Kentucky. In her case, though, it wasn't about the same stars and stripes; during her residency, while driving to Memphis, she had seen a wall-size Confederate flag—a looming, unapologetic beacon still standing on the Southern hillside—to which she later responded in a series of paintings.
June Edmonds, Allegiances and Convictions, at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles. An exhibition by the L.A.-based painter dwells on the significance of flags — both as visual statements and tokens of identity. In this case, each of her flags pays tribute to African American history past and present.