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Up From the Archives #3 Unusual Lady, Unlikely Life: Dawn Langley Simmons
4/28/22 7PM EST
Founded in 1978, W.I.N.G.S (Women Invent New Gallery Spaces) was an umbrella program for a wide range of imaginative and In 1986, Women’s Studio Workshop produced an exhibition titled FACELIFT, a video and installation project that included three living environments. Each gallery setting represented one aspect of Dawn Langley Simmons’ impressive life, including the Private, the Public, and the Professional which centered her daily life, her experiences with the media, and her work as a writer respectively. FACELIFT was curated by Ariel Dougherty and created by Dena Crane, Tana Kellner, and Jone Miller.
Likely born in 1922, Dawn Langley Simmons’ life began in Sussex, England. She immigrated to the United States in her 20s and then spent time in New York City, South Carolina, and the Hudson Valley. In her autobiography Dawn: A Charleston Legend she reestablished her birth year to 1937 to track with the timeline of her life story including her gender affirming care at Johns Hopkins in 1968, her marriage in 1969 (the first legal interacial marriage in South Carolina) and the birth of her daughter all of which attracted attention from neighbors and the media alike. A prolific author and journalist, her writing on the transgressions of society’s famous and unusual women as well as her connection to figures such as Vita Sackville-West, Virginia Woolf, and Carson McCullers add to the mystery of her biography. As stated in her New York Times obituary, “Mrs. Simmons was a person around whom legends swirled.
For this event, guests Susan Stryker and Chris Vargas will join Zona and Levine as we look to the life of Dawn Langley Simmons to discuss untold trans histories, media portrayal, and the utilization of archives and period clippings to illuminate queer and trans narratives.
Up from the Archives #2: W.I.N.G.S.
3/24/22 7PM EST
Founded in 1978, W.I.N.G.S (Women Invent New Gallery Spaces) was an umbrella program for a wide range of imaginative and experimental exhibitions and events. This program was designed to employ women artists to make work that was featured in non-traditional gallery spaces throughout Ulster County, New York into the early 80’s.
One example from the series is WSW’s celebrated Flying Objects event held on June 30, 1979 at the New Paltz Airport, where artists were invited to design objects that “flutter and somehow fly in the air.” Leading up to the event, kite-making workshops were held across Ulster County.
For this program we will be talking with four panelists who have cultivated contemporary exhibition spaces in unexpected and unusual spaces around the country. These innovative and non-traditional exhibition projects are in alignment with the values of WSW’s W.I.N.G.S programming and will allow the conversation to continue into the present moment.
- Sage Dawson (STNDRD, a public art project examining the power and potential of flags)
- Alex Lukas (CA53776V2.gallery, an experimental exhibition platform on the dashboard of a 2007 Ford Ranger)
- Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo (The Nook Gallery, 2015-2020 a intimate gallery space located in a built-in seating nook in their kitchen)
- Imin Yeh (The Dreamcabin, a 1-12 scale miniature house and exhibition space).
Behind The Curtain: Virtual Panel Discussion
4/7/22 7PM EST
Behind the Curtain is a topical virtual program series that aims to demystify the varied institutions that artists have to navigate. This month’s series focuses on the academic teaching and hiring process.
It’s no secret that applying to teaching positions in academia is confusing, exhausting, and time consuming for artists. What are panelists looking for? What makes a strong artist statement or teaching portfolio? More often than not, it’s a trial and error process for recent graduates and new educators that feels equal parts mystifying and frustrating.
Join us for a free virtual panel discussion about the current challenges and realities of academia for artists as we talk to Breanne Trammell, Abigail Lucien, Nicole Killian, and Hồng-Ân Trương who are educators + artists in varying stages of their professional practices and teaching careers.
In the weeks following the panel discussion we will be holding a series of virtual sliding scale workshops covering professional practices topics including building a CV, writing for artist applications, and the interview process for academic jobs.
2/17/22 7PM EST
The WSW Library is home to a wide range of archival materials that In 2024, WSW will celebrate half a century of service to artists, offering a tremendous opportunity to share our extraordinary history. The WSW Library is home to a wide range of archival materials that trace the history and mission of the organization, this program series aims to reveal and interpret the experimental, enduring, and trailblazing history of WSW and the many artists who have worked there. Co-organized by Faythe Levine and Erin Zona this presentation series highlights special collections from WSW’s Library as catalysts for conversation.
Our first virtual event of the series will focus on the 1984 traveling group exhibition organized by WSW titled Big Brother is Watching, featuring photocopied works of art by 37 artists. Inspired by the purchase of WSW’s first photocopier, “Big Brother” was “motivated by a desire to communicate with other women’s art organizations and to present a commentary on the political realities of (the) time.” Each artist was asked to create an xerox edition directly inspired by George Orwell’s literary imagery and symbols, but many branched into topical concerns like nuclear war, toxic waste, unemployment, and social dialogue, each approached diversely with varied humor, anger, and defiance.
This exhibition acted as a networking device between five participating women’s art organizations including; Local 1734, Washington D.C; Women’s Graphic Center, Los Angeles; Feminist Art Institute, New York City; Women’s Art Registry of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Each organization hosted the exhibit as well as curating participants.
For this conversation, WSW is pleased to feature panelist Kate Eichhorn in discussion with Erin Zona and Faythe Levine. This session will delve into the history and power of xerography as a networking tool, dissemination and replication device, and means for transgressive art action.
Kate Eichhorn is Associate Professor and Chair of Culture and Media Studies at The New School. She is the author of The End of Forgetting: Growing Up with Social Media, Adjusted Margin: Xerography, Art and Activism in the Late Twentieth Century (MIT Press), and The Archival Turn in Feminism.
Faythe Levine has been in service to the arts for over twenty years advocating for creativity to be used as a vehicle to build community, personal independence and empowerment. Motivated by reimagining archives and collections through a queer feminist lens, her creative labor intersects with curatorial projects, consulting, writing, documentary film, and happenings. Levine’s core belief is that visual culture is a conduit for radical change and generative dialog.
Erin Zona is a practicing artist with a special interest in research-based projects that utilize archives and special collections. As Artistic Director at Women’s Studio Workshop, Erin is responsible for the artistic integrity of all programs and projects; including WSW’s artist’s book publishing program, coordination of all exhibitions on and off site, and panel selection for all competitive programs. Zona co-represents over 200 artists from WSW publishing catalog in the sales and distribution of artists’ books and is the lead artistic organizer of WSW’s upcoming 50th-anniversary program of events, including artist and curator management, exhibitions, publications, and related public events.
11033 by IBe’ Bulinda Crawley, a Virtual Book Release
Women’s Studio Workshop is pleased to announce the official publication of the artist’s book 11033 by IBe’ Clawley. To celebrate, we hosted a conversation with the artist and special guests Jarene Fleming and Elvatrice Belsches. This event included a reading by the artist and a visual presentation of the book spanning all aspects from research to artistic production. Guests discussed the experiences of Mary Morst in the state of Virginia within historical and contemporary contexts.
11033 is the artist’s attempt to meditate on the feelings and experiences of a real black woman in the Virginia State Penitentiary in 1921. Imprisoned behind the black bars of the book’s construction, 11033 centers the complex life of Mary Morst and shares her story as an imprisoned murderer and the mother of twin children born ‘behind bars.’
The inspiration for this project grew from IBe’ Crawley’s research into the untold stories of women and girls impacted by oppressive Virginia laws and continued enslavement. Unlike most black women and girls, Mary Morst’s story is recorded because of her relationship to the penal system. IBe’ Crawley conducted research at Virginia State Library, where all the prison records for Mary Morst are publically available.
11033 is constructed of handmade flax and abaca paper, with shaped pages that present the silhouette of a pregnant body. The textblock incorporates a central clay figure providing structural support for the book to stand upright and be viewed as a rectangular prison. This sculptural artist’s book incorporates embedded copies of archival documents, including newspaper clippings, letters, and pardon applications alongside a fictional text poetically woven throughout the historical narrative.
This event will include a reading by the artist and a visual presentation of the book spanning all aspects from research to artistic production. Guests will discuss the experiences of Mary Morst in the state of Virginia within historical and contemporary contexts.
IBe’ Bulinda H. Crawley, a retired Fairfax County P.S. teacher, has dedicated her life to documenting the stories of African American ancestors, elders and community members. IBe’ Crawley uses visual arts, documentaries, and oral storytelling to record the oral histories of communities such as Anacostia in Washington D.C., City Point in Hopewell, Virginia, Downtown Danville, Virginia, and Shockoe Bottom in Richmond, Virginia.
IBe’ Crawley’s life has been shaped by the sacrifices of her parents, her extensive commitment to education, and her vision for developing safe spaces for memory care. In particular, events such as Bloody Monday in 1963, the Black Power Movement, Black Lives Matter, and the Women’s Rights movements are the backbones of her commitment to liberation.
IBe’ is the mother of two adult sons (Antarah and Aton), as well as the wife of Aldric Crawley. In childhood, IBe’ was called Bulinda by her more than 30 aunties, and taught the values of self-discipline, friendship and self-determination. She is supported by her sister Roz, cousins and her many sister friends, who give her the courage to keep stepping out on clouds of faith.
Elvatrice Belsches is a Richmond-area resident, public historian, author, presenter and filmmaker. She is the author of Black America Series: Richmond, Virginia (Arcadia Publishing) and several biographical entries for the African American National Biography (AANB), a collaborative publication of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University and the Oxford University Press. Belsches is also the author of the biographical entries for Miss Virginia Randolph for both the AANB and Encyclopedia Virginia.
Belsches is the recipient of a 2020 grant from Virginia Humanities for the development of the script for the Virginia Randolph documentary project. She was commissioned in 2009 by the National Park service to research, author and narrate, The Historic Jackson Ward Podcast Tour. Historic Jackson Ward, located in Richmond, Virginia, is the largest National Historic Landmark District associated with African American history and culture in America, according to the Department of the Interior. Belsches was also honored to serve as an in-studio researcher on Steven Spielberg’s motion picture, Lincoln. She lectures locally and nationally on the Black experience in history and is a double graduate of and former faculty member at Hampton University.
Jarene Fleming is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She is the State Breastfeeding Coordinator with the Virginia Department of Health. In this capacity, she coordinates multiple initiatives to promote, protect and support human milk feeding; including the Virginia WIC Breastfeeding Program, the Virginia Maternity Care Quality Improvement Collaborative, and the Virginia Breastfeeding Friendly Designation Program. Previously, Jarene worked for the University of Miami Jasmine Project, a National Institute of Health Healthy Start program. There she provided client services, developed breastfeeding curricula, and spearheaded community engagement and outreach. Making a positive impact in the area of maternal and infant health through human milk feeding is her passion. Her particular focus is closing the racial health disparity gap by promoting human milk for all families. Jarene is a committed community advocate who enjoys dancing, music, reading, and spending time with her family.
Studio Residency Grant Info Session
Artistic Director Erin Zona hosted a live Q+A over Zoom to help applicants learn about the application and selection process for the Studio Residency Grant.
The Studio Residency Grant is a six- to eight-week residency for artists to create new work in any of our studio disciplines: intaglio, letterpress, papermaking, screenprinting, photography, or ceramics. WSW invites applications from artists at any stage in their careers.
Artist’s Book Residency Grant Info Session
Artistic Director Erin Zona hosted a live Q+A over Zoom to help applicants learn about the application and selection process for the Artist’s Book Residency Grant.
WSW’s artists’ books are held in over 400 collections world-wide, and in nine repositories that have the majority of our collection. WSW has two production residencies that result in the publication and distribution of a handmade artist’s book edition: the Artist’s Book Residency Grant and the Art-in-Education (AIE) Artist’s Book Grant.
Fall 2021 Intern Slide Night
WSW hosted a virtual presentation of work from our Fall 2021 Studio Interns, Amani Rodriguez and Marissa Perez. (Featured artwork by Marissa Perez)
Right Now! Artist’s Publication Production Grant Slide Night
WSW hosted a virtual slide night featuring presentations from our 2020 Right Now! Artist’s Publication Production grantees, Damali Abrams the Glitter Princess, Maya Beverly, Andrés Hernández, and Sonia Louise Davis.
Carolee Schneemann Virtual Book Release
Featuring Erin Zona, Artistic Director of Women’s Studio Workshop, in conversation with Rachel Churner, Director of the Carolee Schneemann Foundation and Kenneth White, Assistant Professor of Film Studies in the Cinema Department at the State University of New York at Binghamton. This event centered Carolee’s beloved eighteenth century farmhouse in New Paltz, NY with a focus on WSW’s recent reprinting of Carolee’s artist’s book Parts of a Body House Book, originally published by Beau Geste Press in 1972. This was a virtual book release and included a discussion of Carolee’s personal archives as they relate to the book, as well as a mini-tour on the grounds of Carolee’s home.
Studio Tour with Kelly Taylor Mitchell
We hosted a studio tour with artist Kelly Taylor Mitchell, moderated by WSW AD Erin Zona. This event included a full tour of Mitchell’s working space at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Museum. According to the artist, her practice “…centers oral history and ancestral memory woven into the fabric of the Africana Diaspora.” This session was organized as a virtual tour and included a section of Q&A.
Studio Tour with Shelley Thorstensen of Printmakers Open Forum
We hosted a studio tour with artist Shelley Thorstensen moderated by WSW AD Erin Zona. This event included a full tour of Shelley’s printmaking studio in Oxford, Pennsylvania. She and her partner Dale, have built this studio from the ground up. Participants will toured her gardens, buildings, and equipment including her recent acquisition of a 1966 Okuma flatbed offset litho press. This session was organized as a virtual tour and included a section of Q&A.
WSW and Dieu Donné Present: In Conversation with Candy González & Tatiana Ginsberg
In partnership with Dieu Donné, we held a conversation with artists Candy Alexandra González and Tatiana Ginsberg moderated by WSW’s Artistic Director Erin Zona. This event centered on González’s tenure as the West Bay View Foundation Fellow at Dieu Donné, and the technical processes Tatiana and Candy collaborated on to create the body of work González completed there. This session was organized as a virtual tour and include a section of Q&A.
Special Collections with Johanna Drucker
Inspired by the voyeuristic joy of Zoom meet-ups, this series dove deep into the home collections of artists, curators, and independent collectors who we know and love. Through these virtual special collections tours, our guests shared their favorite artworks and objects, as well as the stories that accompany them. Each event was moderated by WSW’s Artistic Director Erin Zona and included a Q&A component. Our first home visit was with renowned artist’s book scholar Johanna Drucker.
Studio Tour with Colette Fu
We held a studio tour with artist Colette Fu, moderated by WSW AD Erin Zona. This event included a full tour of Colette’s working space in Philadelphia, PA. Participants saw her digital and analog equipment and tools, projects underway, and the artist’s large collection of pop-up books and ephemera. This session was organized as a virtual tour and will include a section of Q&A.