In 1974 four women joined together to create the Women’s Studio Workshop, an artists’ workspace for shared equipment, materials and ideas outside of male-dominated academia.
What began as a studio in a house on James Street in Rosendale has grown to an international arts organization and the largest publisher of artists’ books in the country.
[Catskill Mountain Foundation] Thirty-one years later, female artists from around the world still believe in the idea: Each year, WSW hosts approximately 30 artists-in-residence, 150 summer students and eight full-time interns. These artists come from the local community and around the world to use the unique facilities in a supportive environment free from the stress and responsibilities of everyday life.
In the late 1970’s Judith Hoyt took an altered book class at the Women’s Studio Workshop. Taught by co-founder Barbara Leoff Burge, the course was Hoyt’s first experience with the Rosendale based not-for-profit. Students brought in existing books and, under Leoff Burge’s tutelage, altered them into unique artistic creations. In the early 1980’s Hoyt participated in Women Invent Gallery Spaces (WINGS) a program that created unique and interesting exhibition spaces for women artists. Through this program, Hoyt had her first post-college exhibition, showing her collages at the Sturbridge Lion, a Rosendale bar that no longer exists. The WINGS program also no longer exists because WSW has a permanent exhibition space at its Binnewater location that shows the works of grant recipients.
These experiences got Hoyt hooked, and she has remained actively involved by receiving a book grant from WSW, teaching Kingston elementary and high school students during art-in-education, and serving as a board member. In 1984, a printmaker not long out of school, she was awarded a grant to create A Domestic Bestiary, a small book of etchings depicting domestic animals such as chickens, goats, cows, and pigs. Through WSW’s artists book grant program, artists receive a stipend for materials, technical help, and studio space and housing to create the work. The Women’s Studio Workshop markets the limited edition books to libraries, universities and museums. Hoyt’s book is currently out of print, but, like all books published by WSW, can be viewed page by page on WSW’s online archive.
The kids, of course, are Hoyt’s favorite part of teaching during Art-in-Education. “It is fun to watch them with their little ideas, give them materials and watch them go,” she says. A national model for studio based arts education, WSW’s program invites 24 high school students and 25 to 30 fifth graders each year to learn and create at the workshop. Over the course of four or five weeks, each student has an opportunity to spend one full day in the papermaking, etching and silkscreen studios. The high school students work on portfolios for their advanced placement art class and for college applications. The elementary students combine their works in a final session and each creates a one-of-a-kind artists’ book. The different themes over the years have kept Hoyt interested. “The first year I taught we made boats from wood, Styrofoam and mixed media and floated them in the Rondout creek,” she says. “Another year we made luminaries.”
As an artist in a rural community, Hoyt believes that WSW provides a valuable service by bringing such high quality arts programming to the community. While Hoyt isn’t sure yet what she will be donating to the WSW auction, she does know why she is donating: “WSW focuses on two things the world needs,” she says, “women and art.”
Hoyt’s work was part of the Encaustic Works 2005 exhibition at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz. Also, she’s had a solo exhibition at the Works Gallery in Philadelphia.