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 founding 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, ext. 25

    Michelle Earl, Library Associate, ext. 24

    Laraine Gallagher, Fiscal Officer, ext. 23

    Trevor Clement, Digital Printing Lab Technician, ext. 27

  • Board of Trustees

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

    Almudena Escobar Lopez, Secretary
    Independent Curator, Archivist and Researcher, and Time-based Media Curatorial Assistant, Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester

    Rachel Ferraro
    Artist, Assistant Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology

    Jessica Johnston
    Curator, Assistant Director of VSW

    Evelyne Leblanc Roberge
    Artist, Assistant Professor, University of Rochester

    Alysia Kaplan
    Artist, Assistant Professor of Art & Architecture, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

    Joan Lyons
    Artist, Publisher, VSW Press Founder

    Richard M. Leicht, Treasurer
    CPA, Principal, The Bonadio Group

    Jose Maliekal
    Dean, School of Arts & Sciences, College at Brockport, SUNY

    Tate Shaw
    Artist, Writer, Director of VSW