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Film Preservation at VSW


June 20, 2017


Visual Studies Workshop has been awarded a prestigious Basic Preservation Grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation to preserve About Us, a 16mm film made in 1972 by VSW students and visiting artist Robert Frank. This 38 minute film was written, directed and edited collaboratively by Robert Frank and six students during a 3 month workshop at VSW.

For students and scholars of the history of contemporary photography and film, both VSW and the work of Robert Frank are crucially important areas of research. About Us is especially significant because it reflects the experimental and collaborative ethos upon which Visual Studies Workshop was founded, and provides insight into an alternative, non-hierarchical pedagogical model that has sustained influence for nearly five decades. This film is a one-of-a-kind document of VSW’s earliest days as a pioneering “non-institution” of higher learning, and a valuable link in the legacy of one of the world’s most influential artists, Robert Frank.

The NFPF helps archives, historical societies, libraries, museums, and universities preserve and make available American films that are not likely to survive without public support.  Basic Preservation Grants are awarded to nonprofit and public institutions for laboratory work to preserve culturally and historically significant film materials. The grants are made possible by funds authorized through The Library of Congress Sound Recording and Film Preservation Programs Reauthorization Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-336) and secured through the leadership of the Library of Congress, and the contributions of public-spirited donors.

This is the first NFPF Basic Preservation Grant awarded to VSW.  The funding will be used to create a preservation copy and an access copy of the film.  Preservation lab work will be done at Colorlab in Rockville, MD.

Visual Studies Workshop’s mission is to support makers and interpreters of images through education, publications, exhibitions, and collections, and was founded in 1969 by photographer and curator Nathan Lyons.  Collections at VSW include: Artist Books, Lantern Slides, Photographs, Manuscripts, Screenprints as well as more than 10,000 film and video titles.

Contact: Tara Merenda Nelson, Curator of Moving Image Collections

taranelson@vsw.org, (585) 442-8676

Website: http://www.vsw.org/collections/research-center/film-and-video-archive/






Robert Frank and a student in a still from About Us (1972)

Robert Frank and a Kodak security guard, still from About Us (1972)

Still from About Us, 1972


Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation Grant and Jobs Announcement

Visual Studies Workshop is thrilled to announce the receipt of a grant from the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation to support the online cataloging of The Nathan Lyons Research Center’s photographic print collection, and the MFA program alumni collection. This project will increase the accessibility of VSW collections and promote the work of many under recognized artists.

The material in The Nathan Lyons Research Center has significant research value, and thanks to the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, VSW will now be able to make these resources more widely accessible to the next generation of artists, critics and curators. Visual Studies Workshop will be hiring two part-time cataloging positions for this project. To apply for one of the positions of Cataloger:

(5/10/17 Please note that the positions have been filled)

Email a cover letter, resume and the contact information for two professional references to Jessica Johnston, Curator of Collections at jessicajohnston@vsw.org by April 17, 2017. Please use the subject heading “Cataloging Positions” in the email with your application materials. The two positions are six-month terms, 10-12 hour a week, with the possibility of extensions. The positions will begin in May 2017.

Catalogers will create and populate records in VSW’s online collections management system, eHive. The catalogers will also create box lists, photograph the objects, and prepare or amend biographies of the artists’ for publication on Wikipedia.

Desired Qualifications

• Experience handling photographic objects

• Experience cataloging photographs

• Excellent writing and research skills

• Knowledge of the history of photography

• Experience with copy stand photographic work

• Ability to lift 40lbs

Visual Studies Workshop is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Decisions to hire and promote are made without regard to race, color, religion, gender, national origin, sexuality, age, marital or veteran status, medical condition, disability, or any other legally protected status under federal, state, or local law. It is VSW’s stated goal to reach a broad and diverse candidate pool in hiring for positions as well as addressing audiences through its creative and educational programming.