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Email and Press Release Archive

VSW Email Newsletter Archive

VSW Press Release Archive


2021 / 2022 Project Space Artists-in-Residence

Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation Grant and Jobs Announcement


VSW Awarded Recordings at Risk Grant

Visual Studies Workshop (VSW) is pleased to announce our project, Towards a Democratic Medium: Video Activism and Community Television in the 1970’s-Preserving the Portable Channel Tapes has received a $36,950 Recordings at Risk grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), a program made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This CLIR grant will enable the digitization and online access of two hundred open reel video tapes from the Portable Channel collection.

Portable Channel (1971-1987) was founded in Rochester by feminist filmmaker and disability rights activist Bonnie Sherr Klein. Klein, along with other independent media activists in the Rochester region, created Portable Channel to support community access to video equipment, provide training, and produce programs with an emphasis on community activism, documentary and independent filmmaking. Portable Channel also assisted underrepresented populations in Rochester with producing programs that addressed issues and interests important to their communities. Under Klein’s leadership (1971- 1975) Portable Channel developed a relationship with the public television station WXXI-TV, which gave the group a monthly slot that aired their program titled HOMEMADE TV. The programs varied in format and content but were united in the goal to expand television’s possibilities. A selection from the archive is available to watch on the VSW website

About VSW:
Visual Studies Workshop was founded in 1969 by photographer and curator Nathan Lyons (1930–2016). VSW’s mission is to support makers and interpreters of images through exhibitions, publications, education and research collections. Visit vsw.org for more information.

About CLIR:
The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. To learn more, visit www.clir.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information:

Contact Tara Merenda Nelson, Curator of Moving Image Collections




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: https://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.