The Binnewater General store.

The Binnewater General store.

Early History of WSW

Women’s Studio Workshop was founded in 1974 by Ann Kalmbach, Tatana Kellner, Anita Wetzel, and Barbara Leoff Burge. They were committed to developing an alternative space for artists to create new work and share skills. Programs were centered on the artistic process and often informed by feminist values. In the early years, the studios were located in a two-story single-family house. Etching was in the living room, papermaking was in the attic, and screen printing was in the basement. Public programming included a regular workshop series, as well as special programs that featured the work of women artists. Women’s Work in Film and Video, a long-standing series of topical films made by women film makers, and Outskirts, a series of 2-dimensional art exhibits, were initiated in 1976. These seasonal series were housed alternately at bars, dance studios or libraries—any place where we could access a new audience. The intention was to exhibit the work of women artists as well as provide professional experiences for the artists themselves.

WSW After first renovation.

The Binnewater Arts Center After it’s first renovation.

Binnewater Arts Center

In 1983, WSW moved into the Binnewater Arts Center (BAC), which was a major step forward. That made it possible for us to house both exhibition and studio programs under one roof. The BAC is a historic building that was once the Rosendale Cement Company Store and Post Office. In the 18th and early 19th century the community consisted of mine workers who dug limestone from the deep mines and transported it to nearby kilns where the rock was heated, then ground into Binnewater Cement.  On long wooden counters that once displayed sacks of flour and kegs of nails for sale to the miners, artists now are engaged in printmaking, hand papermaking, and book arts.

The BAC also made it possible for us to offer Artist-in-Residence grants, have a full fledged Summer Art Institute, and offer opportunities for young women artists through our Internship program. With these visual arts programs our standing as the leading women’s art facility in the country was established; and we proudly hold that identifying brand today.

Over time we have gravitated towards programming that provides the richest experiences for artists. Artist Grants, Residencies, the Summer Art Institute, and Internships have become the basis of our professional programs attracting artists from around the world. Public programs with a local audience include our Art-in-Education initiative and community ceramics workshops.

Women's Studio Workshop Today, with our newest building under renovation to the right.

Women’s Studio Workshop Today, with our newest building under renovation to the right.

Women’s Studio Workshop Today

Today, forty years later, each of the four founding women artists are still very much involved in the day-to-day operation of the studios. Together with a vibrant new generation of staff, WSW continues to refine its programs and studios so that we may provide the finest opportunities for artists from across the country and, increasingly, around the world.


  • Saints days

    The lives of female saints are told via a deck of cards inspired by the Italian game Scopa.

    Annette Gates, 2002. Buy it now.