Joan Lyons (American, b. 1937) is a pioneering feminist artist and one of the great unsung artists of her generation. Her groundbreaking work freely combines feminist theory and personal experience. Her work is intimate and introspective, questioning the indexical quality of photography. Lyons’ work defies every artistic taboo of the 1950s.  She had been taught that contemporary art should be universal, gestural, abstract, monumental, qualities which are inherently masculine. After trying and failing to follow these mandates, Lyons’ realized that her work could not be separated from her own experiences as a woman. Her personal narrative, different in content and tone from the dominant male voice, pushed her to establish new artistic structures. 


Over the past six decades, Lyons has employed a variety of difficult and obscure image-making processes. Her work spans a broad range of media including archaic photographic processes, pinhole photography, offset lithography, Xerography, screen-printing, and photo-quilt making. In the 1960s and 1970s, Lyons was one of the earliest artists to adopt xerography as an artistic practice and was recognized as an innovator in the use of Haloid Xerox drawing as an image making process. In a 1982 artist statement Lyons said “I work with what is available, a variety of optical devices. I work through complexity, to something simple and direct. This distillation process becomes more evident as time goes on. I work at those things that are evident; how I see, not conventions of seeing.”


Selected Exhibitions

2010 Portrait, George Eastman House, Rochester, February 22–

Reader’s 10: Ten Year Anniversary Exhibition, Susan Hensel Gallery,

Minneapolis, March–April

Through Women’s Eyes, Image City Photography Gallery, Rochester, May–June

2007 Maker/Mentor, Joan Lyons, Selected Work Four Decades,

Rochester Contemporary (ROCO), January–February

Production not Reproduction: The Influence of Offset Printing on Artist’s Books

Center for Book Arts, September - December, 2007, traveling, Museum of Printing Hstory, Houston, Feb-March 2008

2006 The Target Collection of American Photography: A Century in Pictures

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, December

Complicit: Contemporary American Art and Mass Culture, University of Virginia Art Museum, Sept-Oct

Representations and Personas, Tremaine Gallery, The Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, CT, January- February

The Book As Art: Twenty Years of Artists’ Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts

October 2006 –February 2007

2005 Picturing Differences,with Clarissa Sligh and Martha Madigan, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, Jan-Feb

1998–2005 Women of the Book, Jewish Artists, Jewish Themes, Traveling exhibition

2000 Representations: Rochester Memorial Art Gallery

Work from the Collector’s Gallery, Visual Studies Workshop

1999 Faces á Faces Bibliothéque Nationale de France

El Arte de los Libros de Artista, Instituto de Artes Graficas de Oaxaca, Biblioteca Mexico (Mexico City)

Reflections of the Artist, Portraits and Self-Portraits, National Gallery of Canada

1998 Re-Presentations, Little Theater, Rochester, NY

Rejuvenations, Visual Studies Workshop

1997- Quiltmakers, SUNY Brockport

1996 Artists’ Books, Florida Craftsmen Gallery

1995 Que sont les pionnières devenues?, Centre Copie-Art, Inc., Montreal

Insight: Women’s Photographs From the Collection,

International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House

Visual Studies Workshop Landscape Exhibition

Visual Studies Workshop Press Retrospective, Visual Studies Workshop

On Beyond the Book, Forum for Contemporary Art, St Louis

Books That Teach; Collegiate Book Arts Presses & Their Books, Colombia College, Chicago and traveling

1994 Visual Studies Workshop Press, Printed Matter, NYC

1993 Magicians of Light: Photographs from the Collection, National Gallery of Canada (Catalogue)

Fragments for a Body of Knowledge, FHP Hippodrome Gallery, Los Angeles

Offset: Artists’ Books and Prints, Granary Books, NYC

Artists’ Bookworks: A Decade in Illinois,

Keepers of Secrets and Truths Unknown: Women Book Artists,

Berman Museum of Art, Ursinus College, PA

1992 Boundless Vision, San Antonio Art Institute, Traveling

Photographic Bookworks, Traveling to 1995

1991 Studio International de Tecnologies de Imagem, CESP Sao Paulo, Brasil

Hitting the Books, Minnesota Center for Book Arts

Artists Books Exhibition, Bevier Gallery, RIT

The Abortion Project, Hallwalls, Buffalo, NY

Artists’ Books: VSW Press, Texas Christian University

Finger Lakes Invitational, Rochester Memorial Art Gallery

Trees, Pyramid Arts Center, Rochester

1990 Learn To Read Art: Artists” Books, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario

Rochester Memorial Art Gallery, Recent work, 10 artists

1989 Robert B. Menschel Photography Gallery, Syracuse (brochure)

1988 La Camera Ciega, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Sevilla, Spain, 10 artists, (Catalogue with essays by Joan Fontcuberta,

Terrance Pitts))

Pinhole Photography, 9 Photographers, Barcelona, Spain

Under Construction: New Photomontage, Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum,

(Catalog) February 2 - April 2

Evocative Presence: Twentieth Century Photographs in the Permanent Collection, The Museum of Fine Arts,


6 Women Bookmakers, Atrium Gallery, Storrs, CT

1987 Film in the Cities, St. Paul, MN.

Narrative Art, Rochester Memorial Art Gallery, 5 artists

Rochester Invitational, Bevier Gallery, Rochester Institute of Technology

Alumni Exhibition, Visual Studies Workshop

Experiences in Offset Lithography, Philadelphia College of the Arts

1986 Beyond Words: The Art of the Book, Rochester Memorial Art Gallery

New York State Photographers, Visual Studies Workshop and traveling

1984 Contemporary Gallery, Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ,

Arboretum, University of Denver

Off the Press, 16 Contemporary Photoprintmakers, State University College at New Paltz,

Gallery Association Traveling Exhibition

Offset, An International Exhibition of Artist’s Books: (catalogue) Traveling

Electrostatic Attraction, 28 Arlington Gallery, Rochester

Rochester; An American Center of Photography, International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House

7 Books, visiting lecturers’ exhibition, Maryland Institute, Baltimore

1983 Portraits, Jeffrey Fuller Fine Arts, Philadelphia

National Exhibition of Prints and Photographs by Women, Penns Landing Museum, Philadelphia

Handmade Camera; Contemporary Images, Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia

La Nouvelle Image, Brussels, Belgium

Facets of the Collection: The Medium is Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

1982 Some Gardens, Shahin Requicha Gallery, Rochester

Bookworks Exhibition, Jeffrey Fuller Fine Arts, Philadelphia

In Sequence, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (catalogue) July-September

Artists’ Books, Paterson College (catalogue)

American Photography Today, University of Colorado, Denver, March 6 -April 13

Visual Cataloguing and Mapping, Visual Studies Workshop, January -March

Presences Portfolio, Visual Studies Workshop, March - April

The Alternative Image, Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan, WI, June 20 -August 15 (catalogue)

Bookworks, Traction Gallery, L.A., November 21–December 24 7

New Aquisitions, Contemporary Photography, Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, June 6 - July 29

Portland School of Art, Portland, MI, January - February

Light Factory, Charlotte, NC (2 person)

Art Museum, University of New Mexico, Albequerque, June

1981 Selected Gallery Artists, Visual Studies Workshop

Photographer as Printmaker, Arts Council of Great Britain

CAPS at the State Museum, Albany, (catalogue)

Re: Pages, Artists’ Books, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, (catalogue) traveling exhibition

Paperworks: Art on Paper, Art of Paper, Museum of Applied Arts, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, traveling exhibition

CAPS Photographers, Picker Gallery, Colgate University (catalogue) traveling exhibition

1980 The Artist and the Journal, Spaces, Cleveland

Visual Studies Workshop: the First Decade, Pratt Manhattan Center Gallery, NYC

Wells College, Aurora, NY

Presences Portfolio, Rochester Memorial Art Gallery

Women/Image/Nature, Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia (catalogue)

Photography: Recent Directions, De Cordova Museum, MA

Self Portraits, Seagrams Corp. NYC

Contemporary Women Printers and Bookmakers, Scripps College

Artist’s Books, Visual Studies Workshop

Light Gallery, NYC with Bonnie Gordon, John Wood, Doug Baz

Jeffrey Fuller Fine Arts, Philadelphia

1979 Attitudes, Photography in the 70’s, Santa Barbara Museum of Art (catalogue)

Translations, Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Ithaca (catalogue)

Electroworks, IMP/GEH, traveling exhibition (catalogue)

Polaroid 20 x 24, Light Gallery, NYC, traveling exhibition, (catalogue)

Catskill Center for Photography

Copy Machine, Everson Museum, Syracuse, (catalogue)

A Day In the Life Of, ARC Gallery, Chicago

Four Rochester Woman Artists, New York State University College, Brockport

One -of-a-kind Books, Visual Studies Workshop

1978 Gallery for Contemporary Photography, Chicago

Four Photo-Printmakers, University of Bridgeport, CT

Mirrors and Windows, Museum of Modern Art, NYC (catalogue)

Artist’s Book Use, Peter Frank, Independent Curators, traveling exhibition

Atrwords and Bookworks, Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Arts (LAICA),

1977 Book Objects by Contemporary Artists, Museum of Modern Art, NYC (checklist)

On the Offset Press: Four Printmakers, GANYS traveling exhibition (catalogue)

Survey of Contemporary Photography, Cranbrook Academy of Art

Target Collection of American Photographs. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, (catalogue)

University of Colorado, Boulder, with Paul Diamond

Offset Lithography, School of the Art Institute, Chicago

Survey of Contemporary Photography, Cranbrrok Art Museum

1976 Photographie, Rochester, NY, Centre Culturel Americain, Paris, (catalogue)

Photography, Recent Aquisitions, Museum of Modern Art, NYC

Artifacts Portfolio, Vision Gallery, Boston, MA

Photographic Process as Medium, Rutgers University

Photographer’s Choice, traveling exhibition (catalogue)

1975 Picker Gallery, Colgate University, with Scott Hyde

Spectrum Galleries, Barcelona, Spain, group exhibition

Moncton Art Center, Canada

Art Contemporaine et Photographie, Musee des Artes, Arles, France

Twelve Photographers, NOVA at Park Center, Cleveland (catalogue)

Women of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Fine Art , traveling exhibition (catalogue)

Jorganson Gallery, University of Connecticut, Storrs, with Eileen Cowin

Curator’s Choice, Rochester Memorial Art Gallery

1974 Cheri’s Shooting Gallery, Sun Valley Center for the Arts, Idaho

Women and the Printing Arts, Woman’s Building, L.A. (catalogue)

1972 Visual Studies Workshop Printmakers, Rochester Memorial Art Gallery

1970 Schuman Gallery, Rochester, NY

Into the Seventies, Akron Art Institute, Ohio

Photography by Joan Lyons, Milano, Italy, traveling exhibition

1969 Nazareth Arts Center Gallery, Rochester, NY

The Serial Image, Perdue University

1965 Alfred University, with Nathan Lyons

Schuman Gallery, Rochester

1963 MiChou Gallery, NYC, 3 person,

Schuman Gallery, Rochester, NY


Work in Public Collections

Museum of Modern Art, NYC

Yale University Art Gallery

The Seagrams Collection, NYC

Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY

George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, NY

Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY

J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Kyosoto Museum of Photography, Kyosoto, Japan 5

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The Art Gallery of Princeton

Center for Creative Photography, Tucson

The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities

Exchange National Bank, Chicago

Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Target Collection

DeCordova Museum, Mass.

Franklin Furnace Archive, NYC

Picker Gallery, Colgate University

University of Nebraska

State University of New York, Potsdam

Minneapolis Art Institute

Museum of Applied Arts, Belgrade, Yugoslavia

Austin Peay State University

Texas Christian University

SUNY Brockport

Norton-Simon Museum of Art

National Museum for Women in the Arts, DC (book)

(As well as artists’ books in many University and Museum library collections)


Publications: Books by the Artist

2007 Spring Book, limited inkjet edition, hardbound

2007 Winter Field, limited inkjet edition, hardbound

2007 Fall Walk, limited inkjet edition, hardbound

2007 Newfne, VT: July 5, 2007, Memorial, open edition, LuLu digital

2004 Abecé: Mexico City Book 250 copies, hardbound

2002 Mexico City, Book 1 (walls), limited inkjet edition, hardbound

2002 Summer Field, limited Inkjet edition, hardbound

2001 Melody Marketing, 200 copies, paper

1999 Twenty-Five Years Ago, 250 copies, paper

1993 My Mother’s Book, 1000 copies, paper

1992 Fragments for a Body of Knowledge, with Susan King, Sue Ann Robinson, Shelley Hoyt

1990 The Gynecologist, 6 x 9”, 800 copies, paper

1985 Artists’ Books, Special Digested Edition, 6x9”, 200 copies

1981 Seed Word Book, 4 1/2 x 3”, approx. 200 pages, hardbound, 10 copies

1980 Spine, with Philip Zimmermann, 17 x 11”, 400 copies, paper

1978 Sunspots, approx 80 pages, 9 x 7 1/2”

first edition, 27 copies

second edition, 20 copies

Full Moon, approx. 80 pages, 9 x 7 1/2”, paper, 25 copies

Perspectives I, Australian National Railroad

Perspectives II, The Matterhorn

Perspectives III, Tamiami Trai

Perspectives IV, The Moon at 17 Days of Age

Perspectives V, Sea Cliffs

Perspectives VI, Mountain Lake

Perspectives VII, Pool of Bethesda

Perspectives VIII, Coral Reef

Each Perspectives approx. 40 pages, 7 x 7”, postbound, 10 copies

1977 Abbey Rogers To Her Grandaughter, 10 1/2 x 7 1/2”, 32 pages, paper, 500

second edition, 1979, 500 copies (revised slightly)

1975 Bride Book Red To Green, 7 3/4 x 9”, 42 pages, paper

first printing 20 copies, second printing 20 copies

1974 Wonder Woman, 5 x 4 1/2”, 74 pages, paper, 100 copies, Poem by Juliet McGrath

1973 Busform Shadows, 5 1/2 x 8”, 34 pages, paper, 12 copies

1973 In Hand, 8 x 10 1/2”, 64 pages, paper, 75 copies

1972 Self Impressions, 8 x 8 1/2”, 52 pages, paper, 50 copies


Publications: Books Edited

Editor, Artist’s Books: A Critical Anthology and Sourcebook,

Visual Studies Workshop Press with Peregrine Smith Books, 1986, 1988, 1991, VSW Press 1993.

Editor, Artist’s Books: Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1972-2007, Visual Studies Workshop Press, 2009


Selected Workshops

La Luz Arte y Cultura, Oaxaca, Mexico

Woodstock Center for Photography

Center for Book and Paper Arts, Colombia College, Chicago

California College of Arts and Crafts,

Rencontre Photographie, Arles, France,

University of Rochester,

Visual Studies Workshop,

Penland School of Art

Center for Book Arts, NYC

CESP, Sao Paulo, Brasil

Anderson Ranch, Snowmass, CO


Visiting Artist / Faculty

2005 The University of the Arts, Philadelphia

1998 Colombia College, Center for the Book and Paper Arts

1995 American Photography Institute, National Graduate Seminar, New York University

1995 Brown University

1993 Artist-in-Residence, Headland Arts Center, Marin, CA

1991 Colombia College

1991 Green Honors Professor, Texas Christian University

1989 Visiting Critic Minnesota Center for Book Arts

1989 Artist-in-Residence, Austin Peay State University

1987 Cranbrook Academy of Art

1986 Rhode Island School of Design


Grants & Awards

2002 Lifetime Achievement Award (with Nathan Lyons) Arts and Cultural Council of Greater Rochester

1996 Sol Mednick Lifetime Achievement Award from Society for Photographic Education

1981 CAPS (Creative Artists’ Public Service ) New York State Photography Fellowship.

1980 Lillian Fairchild Award, University of Rochester

1975 CAPS (Creative Artists’ Public Service ) New York State Photography Fellowship.


Selected Lectures

Marlboro College, VT 2006

Austin-Peay State University, Clarkesville, TN, 2006

Pyramid Atlantic Book Conference, 2004

SUNY Brockport, Scholars’ Day, 2004

Society for Photographic Education 2004

Rochester Memorial Art Gallery, 2000 2

SUNY Buffalo, 2000

Society for Photographic Education, National Conference, Tucson, 1999

“Make Your Mark,” New England Women in Photography, Simmons College, Dec. 1998

Center for the Book, Colombia College, Chicago, 1998

Rochester Institute of Technology, 1997

“Symposium for the Photographic Book,” Society for Photographic Education,

regional conference, Haverford College, PA, 1996

London Artists’ Bookfair, 1996

American Photography Institute, National Graduate Seminar at NYU, 1996

Brown University, 1995

University of Arizona, Tempe

Museum of Modern Art, NYC

Woman’s Building, L.A.

Colgate University

Texas Christian University

Austin Peay State University

Craig Art Center, Williams College

Walker Art Center

Colombia College, Chicago

Maryland Institute

Cranbrook Academy of Art



2005 College Art Association, Nexus Press

1999 Artist/Author, Hamilton College

1998 Make Your Mark, New England Women in Photography, Simmons College

1996 Artists’ Bookfair, London

1995 ISEA: Art and Technology Conference, Montreal

1993 The Next Wave: Books at the Intersection of Icon and Artifact, Mills College, CA

1991 Book Conference NYC

1991 Caucus for Worksites at Pyramid Atlantic, Riverdale MD

1990 Woman’s Caucus, CAA

1990 Publishing Conference, Writers and Books


Panel and Board Service

2004– Visual Studies Workshop Board (Secretary)

2006 JAB Online, Advisory Board

2006 Artists’ Books Online, Advisory Board


2006 The Pinhole Journal, Advisory Board

1999 Organizing Committee, Northeast Regional Conference, Society for Photographic Education

1993 Artists’ Books, the Houghton Library, Harvard University

1991 Massachusetts. Arts Council, Fellowships

1990-91 Advisory Committee on Mid-size organizations. Rochester Arts and

Cultural Council

1989 Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, Photography Fellowships

1988-89 Rochester Community Arts Fund, AGR

1988 Rochester Area Foundation; Arts Grants

1987 Minnesota Arts Council; juried photography exhibition

1987 North Carolina Arts Council; Visual arts Fellowships

1985 Pennsylvania Arts Council; Visual Arts Fellowships

1984 SUNY Potsdam; juried National Print Exhibition

1982 New York State Council on the Arts; Appeals Panel

1982 Film in the Cities; Minnesota Photography Fellowships

1979-81 Visual Arts Panel, New York State Council on the Arts 3

1980 National Endowment for the Arts; Printmaking Fellowships

1979 National Endowment for the Arts; Photography, Books, Exhibitions and Special Projects

1977 Massachussetts Photography Fellowships

1976 CAPS Photography Fellowships


Biographical References

Alastair Johnston, Hanging Quotes, Texas, Cuniform Press, 2011, interview with Joan and Nathan Lyons

Sylvia Sukop, Exposure, Spring 2010, interview

Rochester Women’s Magazine September, 2010 “Joan of Art” by Susan Y. Dyer

JAB (Journal of Artists’ Books), Spring, 2007 “The Small Pond” interview with Joan Luyons by Clifton Meador

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, February 2, 2007

Art as a framework, City Newspaper, February 7, 2007

Afterimage, March/April 2005, Interview with Joan Lyons by Tate Shaw

Museum of Creative Photography, catalogue, Tuscon, AZ, 2002

Photography from 1839 to Today, George Eastman House, Rochester, NY, Taschen, 1999

Cathy Courtney, Speaking of Book Art, Interviews with British and American Book Artists, Anderson Loveless, LA, 1999

Art Monthly, 5/99 “Lost and Found” Cathy Courtney

Renee Reese Hubért and Judd D. Hubert, The Cutting Edge of Reading: Artists’ Books, NY, Granary Books,1999

JAB (Journal of Artists’ Books), Fall, 1995, Interview with Joan Lyons

The Century of Artists’ Books, Johanna Drucker, NY, Granery Books, 1995

Magicians of Light, 1993, (Catalogue) National Gallery of Canada

The Consort, November, 1992, “Conversation with Joan Lyons” Susie Cohen and William Johnson

The Ampersand, Spring 1989, “Interview with Joan and Nathan Lyons” Alistair Johnston

Photo Vision, No 15, 1988

Contemporary Photographers, St. James Press, London

Target Collection, (catalogue) Musum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1984

City Newspaper, Rochester, September 1982, Susan Peters

Smithsonian Magazine, October 1980

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Feb 18, 1977, Sally EauClaire

Photographers’ Between Covers, Tom Dugan, Rochester, New York, Light Impressions

Chrysalis, Fall 1978, Lucy Lippard, “Women’s Books”

Print Review, No 7, Julie McWillie,”Exploring Electro-Static Print”

New Directions in Photography Christian Science Monitor, Jan 3, 1977

Modern Photography, June 1977, Julia Skully, “Portraits”

Photographia Italiana, 1970


Catalogue Essays / Articles by JL

The Jerome Foundation, artists’ books fellowships catalog essay 1989, MCBA

Why Artists’ Books, Harvard University, The Houghton Library, catalog essay, 1993

AbraCadaBra, (Auto)biographical Writing and the Artists’ Book, Spring, 1996

In Retrospect, work by Ann Lovett, Maureen Cummins and Nava Altas, 2010

From Now, essay for an anthology about Johanna Drucker, Colombia College, Chicago, 2012




1991 Artists’ Books: Visual Studies Workshop Press, Texas Christian University 1991

Uncensored Posters, Rochester Artists’ Coalition, VSW and traveling

1987 The Extended Page, Exhibition, performances, symposium,Tower Fine Arts Gallery, SUNY Brockport, for the Summer

Arts Festival,

1978 Visual Studies Workshop Press, Exhibition at Franklin Furnace, with Don Russell



1957 BFA, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University

1957 Graduate Assistantship, Mills College, Oakland, California

1973 MFA, SUNY, Buffalo, Program in Photographic Studies