Visual Studies Workshop

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Visual Studies Workshop
Established 1969

31 Prince Street

Rochester, New York 14607
Founder Nathan Lyons
Director Tate Shaw

Visual Studies Workshop (VSW) is a non-profit educational art organization located in Rochester, New York. VSW was founded in 1969 by photographer, writer, curator and educator, Nathan Lyons. VSW is artist-run and an educational and support center for photography and other media art. VSW has an MFA program through New York State University at Brockport, but is located in the Neighborhood of the Arts in downtown Rochester.[1]

The mission of VSW is to support makers and interpreters of images through education, publications, exhibitions, and collections. VSW houses a bookstore, exhibition gallery, and research center.[citation needed]


Visual Studies Workshop offers a Master of Fine Arts program with a focus on expanding the potential for books as an art form. MFA candidates are joined into a community of producers that differs from a traditional class academic setting, with a range of backgrounds that is not exclusive to visual arts.[2]

Research Center[edit]

VSW maintains both archival and research collections of media art of the collection focuses primarily on photography, independent film and video, electronic imaging, visual books and the publication arts. The Research Center hosts the Independent Press Archive which is one of the largest collections of artists’ books in the northeast with around 27,000 prints from 19th century vernacular images to contemporary experimental works. The Soibelman Picture Agency Archives is also present with around 40,000 international press images from the 1920s and 30s. The collection also contains Joseph Selle’s Fox Movie Flash Archive with an estimated 800,000 images of people on the streets of San Francisco in the 1940s to the 1960s. VSW also holds the archives of Lejaren à Hiller who was an American illustrator and photographer and who is widely known for American photographic illustration. The Research Center Catalog is online and on an ongoing development basis.[3]


Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism is the bi-monthly publication produced by Visual Studies Workshop. Afterimage has been in publication for the last forty years. The publication includes visual arts, photography, independent film, and video, new media and alternative publishing. It covers topics of issues and debates within art history, visual and cultural studies, and related fields. Afterimage also includes articles, conference and festival reports, book and exhibition reviews, artist’s books, and exhibition catalogs. Afterimage's web site includes online-exclusive reports, reviews, artists’ portfolios and videos, and notices for jobs, calls-for-work, exhibitions, and screenings.[4]

VSW Press[edit]

VSW Press was founded by Joan Lyons in 1971.[5] It is one of the only institutional publishers of artists book in the United States.[6] In 1984, Lyons edited the first anthology of critical essays and sources for the field of artists' books. In the beginning, VSW first provided printing presses for artists to experiment with. VSW then began employing professional pressmen to run a Heidelberg offset press to produce publications that artists, staff, and students had constructed. The process of publication was then switched to digital means with the addition of a computer lab. Most of the books are now made during the artist's residences. The VSW Press also maintains Afterimage, helps develop the VSW research collection, Independent Press Archive, online bookstore, a tumblr page, and alternative book fairs.[7]

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Visual Studies Workshop - About". Retrieved 2014-05-12. 
  2. ^ "Visual Studies Workshop - MFA Visual Studies". Retrieved 2014-05-12. 
  3. ^ "Visual Studies Workshop - Research Center". Retrieved 2014-05-12. 
  4. ^ "About | Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism". Retrieved 2014-05-12. 
  5. ^ Artists' books : Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1971-2008. Lyons, Joan, 1937-. Rochester, N.Y.: Visual Studies Workshop Press. 2009. ISBN 0898221269. OCLC 278980825. 
  6. ^ Artists' books : Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1971-2008. Lyons, Joan, 1937-. Rochester, N.Y.: Visual Studies Workshop Press. 2009. ISBN 0898221269. OCLC 278980825. 
  7. ^ "Visual Studies Workshop - VSW Press". Retrieved 2014-05-12. 

External links[edit]