Visual Studies Workshop’s mission is to support makers and interpreters of images through education, publications, exhibitions, and collections.

Our story

Fueled by his own expansive ideas about photography—as a tool of social commentary and contemporary experimentation—VSW and the MFA program were founded in 1969 by Nathan Lyons. Just a few years after the birth of the school, Nathan’s partner Joan Lyons founded VSW Press to give artists a place to print their own artists’ books and produce the work they wanted to make—not what was dictated to them by the commercial pressures of publishers, galleries, and museums. That ethos lives today in VSW, which nearly five decades later continues to thrive as a laboratory for leadership and independent thinking.

  • Staff

    Tate Shaw, Director, ext. 21

    Jessica Johnston, Assistant Director | Curator of Collections, ext. 24

    Tara Merenda Nelson, Curator of Moving Image Collections

    Dan Varenka, Bookstore Manager, ext. 27

    Michelle Earl, Library Associate, ext. 24

    Laraine Gallagher, Fiscal Officer, ext. 23

    Karen vanMeenen, Afterimage Editor, ext. 26

    Lucia Sommer, Afterimage Associate Editor, ext. 26

    Rebecca Grant, Afterimage Subscriptions Manager, Afterimage, ext. 26

  • Board of Trustees

    Roger Bruce
    Director of Interpretation, George Eastman Museum (1993-2011); Director, New York State Artist Fellowship Program, NYFA (1984-89)

    Jennifer Friel Moore
    Freelance Creative Consultant for Stock Images

    Joan Lyons, Secretary
    Artist, Publisher, VSW Press Founder

    Nathan Lyons
    Artist, Curator, VSW Founder & Director Emeritus

    Doug Manchee, President
    Artist, Associate Professor
    Rochester Institute of Technology

    Lindsay Olson, Treasurer
    CPA, Productivity Manager, The Bonadio Group

    Darwin Prioleau, PhD
    Dean, The Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, The College at Brockport, SUNY

    Tate Shaw
    Artist, Writer, Director of VSW

    Robert D. Schultz
    Partner, Morgenstern DeVoesick PLLC

    Matt Squires
    Project Manager, Manning, Squires, Hennig

    Allen Topolski
    Artist, Associate Professor
    The University of Rochester