Women’s Studio Workshop Artists’ Books

  • Posted on Dec 06, 2010 by

Right now the display cases at the Brooklyn Museum Libraries contain a selection of our holdings of artists’ books from the Women’s Studio Workshop. These books complement the exhibition entitled “Hand, Voice & Vision: Artists’ Books from Women’s Studio Workshop” being held at the Grolier Club from December 8, 2010 through February 5, 2011.

The Women’s Studio Workshop (WSW), founded in 1974, is a visual arts organization based in Rosendale, NY. It has studios for printmaking, hand papermaking, ceramics, letterpress printing, photography, and book arts, and it supports artists by offering a variety of fellowships, grants, residencies, classes, and more. WSW has been publishing artists’ books since 1979 and has now published more than 180 limited edition artists’ books. According to their website, they are the largest publisher of hand-printed artists’ books in the country and currently publish seven books each year. These books are chosen through an international juried competition; interested artists submit a proposal and selection is made by a jury of book artists that changes annually. WSW prides itself in “reflect[ing] the wide range of subject matter, cultural diversity, and aesthetic perspectives of the artists who come to work in [their] studios” in these books.

The Brooklyn Museum Libraries have 24 books published by WSW and 16 of these amazing artists’ books are on view in our display cases. These books touch on a range of subjects from angels and saints to sexuality and identity. One of the books is Amanda Kalinoski’s Patterned Pleasures, an accordion fold book with a concertina binding, screenprinted illustrations, and letterpress text. The book juxtaposes the aerial mating act of leopard slugs with human sexual activity, using brightly colored silhouettes of intertwined slugs and entangled couples. On some pages the silhouettes are repeated over and over, forming abstract patterns that almost seem suitable for wallpaper. In some cases you can’t be sure what you’re looking at – without the prior knowledge that these are slugs or people, it would be easy to view them as artful blots and blobs. In some cases, if you look a little closer, details begin to emerge – a foot here, an optical tentacle there. Other pages feature more detailed art, the colorful abstractions enhanced with line drawings to more clearly portray a pair of slugs.

Most of the text applies to both the slugs and the people, and that seems to be the point – our respective mating rituals and the reasons behind them are not as different as one might think. The texts states “it’s happening again/ the minute before, now the one after/ billions acting on instincts/ natural/ habitual” because it is happening, it’s always happening, with slugs, humans, amphibians, everything. Throughout most of the book the larger images feature the aerial leopard slugs; near the end, they are replaced with silhouettes that are clearly people, and the text becomes a bit more pointed: “pairing out of necessity, lust, or both,/ they are inclined to pretend/ it’s not happening again”. What separates us from the slugs may be less about evolution and intelligence and more about denial and shame.

The following list of the books on display contains links to their Arcade records, with cover thumbnails from the Women’s Studio Workshop website that also link to further information and PDF versions of the books at the Women's Studio Workshop Archive.

Jen Roth, Intern, Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives

Case 1

Patterned pleasures

by Amanda Kalinoski

Seven lady saints

by Erica Van Horn

Wrongly bodied two

by Clarissa Sligh

Saints days

by Annette Gates

Evidence of attendants

by M. J. Connors

Forgotten knowledge

by Marisol Limón Martínez

Case 2


Don't bug the waitress

by Susan Baker

Women and cars

by Susan E. King

Tick tiger trout

by Eva Mantell

Visions of a one eyed horse

by Beatrice Conover

Mop factory incident

by Stacy Doris

Illustrations of power

by Lisa Titus


by Sara Cushing

Sea ribbons

by Anita Wetzel

A nuclear atlas

by Sharon Gilbert


The queen of wands

by Susan Elizabeth King


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