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

Our story

VSW was founded in 1969 in Rochester, New York by artist and curator Nathan Lyons (1930–2016). Rooted in Lyons’ progressive vision of the “workshop idea,” VSW became one of the earliest independent, not-for-profit, artist-run spaces in the country.

Fifty three years later VSW’s core programs continue to reflect our mission and include VSW Press, VSW Salon (formerly the VSW Film Series), Project Space Artist Residencies, and Artist Education programs, as well as a research collection and art library with over a million still and moving images and 40,000 books for artists, critics and the general public to explore, research and reuse.

VSW’s archives and programs support, promote, and explore artist’s works, artist’s studio practice, artist publications, as well as artist and curator critical writing. VSW offers crucial support to artists and curators and provides affordable or free programming around these activities for our community, both onsite and online. 

  • Staff

    Nilson Carroll, Assistant Curator and Preservation Specialist

    Trevor Clement, Digital Printing Lab Technician

    Hernease Davis, Assistant Curator Education and Public Programs

    Jessica Woodwell Johnston, Executive Director, x.21

    Mary Lewandowski, Curatorial and Research Associate

    Tara Merenda Nelson, Curator and Director of Public Programs

    Tate Shaw, Editor VSW Press and Curator Joan Lyons Independent Press Archive

    Jeanne Strazzabosco, Membership & Development Manager

  • Board of Trustees

    Joan Lyons, President
    Artist, Publisher, VSW Press Founder

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

    Evelyne Leblanc Roberge, Secretary
    Artist, Assistant Professor, University of Rochester

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

    Colleen Buzzard
    Artist, Colleen Buzzard Studio

    Almudena Escobar Lopez
    Independent Curator, Archivist and Researcher, Assistant Professor Toronto Metropolitan University

    Jessica Johnston (ex officio)
    Executive Director, VSW

    Tate Shaw (ex officio)
    Artist, Writer, Editor VSW Press

    Mizin Shin
    Co-founder Mirabo Press, Buffalo, NY and Assistant Professor, University of Rochester

  • Address

    Visual Studies Workshop

    31 Prince Street

    Rochester, New York 14607

    (585) 442-8676

  • Nathan Lyons Research

    Center Hours

    Tuesday–Friday: 10am–5pm

  • Bookstore Hours

    Tuesday–Friday: 10am–5pm


  • We would like to acknowledge that we are on the ancestral home of the Seneca people of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Today, Rochester has been – and is – home to many indigenous people.

    We would like to take a moment to consider the many legacies of violence, displacement, genocide, and migration that bring us together here today, and to build an ongoing awareness of our responsibility to actively participate in healthy reciprocal relations.