James Payne is an art historian specializing in the role of paper ephemera in the radical political movements of the New Left period. Payne earned his BA from the Ohio State University and is completing his MA in Art History at Indiana University. His MA thesis tracks the visual exchange between the Black Panther Party's Emory Douglas and the Cuban poster agency named the Organization of Solidarity with the Peoples of Africa, Asia, and Latin America (OSPAAAL). During the 2016-17 academic year, Payne was a Graduate Direct Exchange Scholar at the Freie Universität Berlin in Berlin, Germany. In the summer of 2017, he was a BSUVA scholar at the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia.
Payne has worked as an adjunct instructor at the Columbus College of Art & Design since 2017 where he has taught Art Theory and Criticism and the introductory art history survey sequence. Payne currently teaches the seminar Museum and Curatorial Practices and the lecture course Modern to Contemporary Art and Design.
Payne has worked in the print department of the Eskenazi Art Museum at Indiana University and interned in the print department of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was the gallery director of the nonprofit ROY G BIV gallery from 2012-13 and the co-curator of Skylab Gallery from 2011-2014, both in Columbus, Ohio. Payne has worked in various menial positions for the Wexner Center for the Arts, the Mahan Gallery, and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. He was a co-founder of the long-running DIY venue Monster House.
Payne has received grants from the Greater Columbus Arts Council, Threewalls, Indiana University, and the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia. He is the co-author with Rujeko Hockley and Deborah Willis of Framing Beauty: Intimate Visions, published in 2017 by Indiana University Press. Payne's book of poetry Things Just Aren't They was published in 2015 by Monster House Press. He is a contributing editor of Mask Magazine in Brooklyn, NY.