Claire Lerner was born and raised in New York, New York. She received her MFA and BFA in Fine Art from both the State University of New York at Buffalo and the State University College at Buffalo. After graduate school Claire moved to California where she was a member of the photography faculty at Monterey Peninsula College, Monterey, California for ten years. In 2000 she began teaching black and white darkroom photography, alternative photographic processes, studio art, and digital arts at the Santa Catalina School in Monterey, California. She has conducted many workshops on various visual arts processes including, Cabrillo Arts Summer 2011 Extension Classes, and Spoleto Study Abroad, Spoleto, Italy. This three-week, hands-on Italian immersion program allows students to slow down and observe the beauty surrounding them while studying an artistic discipline of their choice. Students live like local Spoletini during their time abroad and explore the surrounding towns on weekly day trips throughout the Umbria region.
Claire was one of three teachers selected nationwide to receive a Golden Educators Residency for the summer of 2015. She was a recipient of the First Place Award for her work in the, Exemplary Contemporary exhibition, at the Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA. She also received the Award of Distinction from the Steinbeck Center, Salinas, CA. In 2008 her work was selected for a solo exhibition at the Smith Gallery, UCSC, California. Her work has been collected by a broad range of private and public institutions, including the Monterey Museum of Art, Visa Corporation, Redwood City, CA, Cowell College, UCSC, PMI, Corporate Headquarters, Walnut Creek, CA, Kaiser Permanente, and the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, Monterey, CA.