Library of Congress Acquires Collection From Women's Workshop

Jun 4, 2013

Credit Courtesy of Women's Studio Workshop

The Library of Congress has acquired a collection of handmade books from a women’s cooperative workshop in Ulster County.

More than 200 artists’ books created over the past three decades at the Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, New York, have been shipped to the Library of Congress, which acquired the collection for $52,000. Tatana Kellner is a co-founder and artistic director at the workshop.

Other institutions that house books published by the Women’s Studio Workshop include Vassar College in Poughkeepsie and Yale University. Mark Dimunation is chief of the rare book and special collections division at the Washington, D.C. –based Library of Congress. He says that although the Library had individual works from the Women’s Studio Workshop, it became apparent that capturing the output of the cooperative over time would be important, for several reasons, one being the consistent quality of the works.

And that role, explains Maureen Cummins, is nurtured at the Women’s Studio Workshop.

A Brooklyn transplant, Cummins is a resident of the hamlet of High Falls in Ulster County. Two of her books are included in the Library of Congress acquisition.

And she describes “The Business Is Suffering” as dealing with slave-era history. She says it was “Crazy Quilt” and her first experience at the Women’s Studio Workshop that set her on her own as an artist.

Women’s Studio Workshop has hosted more than 5,000 artists from around the world since the workshop’s establishment in 1974. Artists apply for residency, and a rotating jury selects four or five each year. Again, here’s the workshop’s Kellner.

Mark Dimunation explains where the Women’s Studio Workshop collection fits into the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world as well as the nation's oldest federal cultural institution. It serves as the research arm of Congress.