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60 Years of Making at VisArts

When VisArts was founded in 1963 by Elisabeth Scott Bocock as the Hand Workshop, the organization was envisioned as a welcoming place for artists to make work and build community, and as an educational space where these same artists could invite young people to learn to create art. 60 years later many things changed, including our name and address, but at the core we are the same. We are the place where art-making happens, where artists build community and grow careers, and where arts education is made available to all.  

As we look back on 60 years, it’s easy to be proud of the big changes and the growing numbers; we’ve grown to become a 30,000 square foot facility filled with 17 professionally-equipped studios, we employ more than 200 artists to teach more than 1,000 classes each year, our community programs reach over 3,000 individuals across all abilities and ages, and our Craft + Design show doubled in size to showcase more than 150 artists from around the country.  

Throughout our history, we’ve remained committed to our mission while also working hard to ensure we evolve to respond to the needs and interests of our community. Since our 50th anniversary, we’ve built new programs like our artist residency programs that provide space and resources to more than 30 artists each year, we’ve expanded Art After School and Veterans at VisArts to new partners, started a Financial Aid program to ensure we’re accessible to all, and created our Studio Access program that provides an affordable way for hundreds of artists work independently in our studios. We’ve continued to renovate our facility, improving our darkroom, printmaking and letterpress studios. We created a woodshop, added a clay studio and – just this year – created a new fabrication lab complete with 3D printers and a laser engraver.  

Despite all this growth, we still see the need to expand further. We have partners that want to grow with us, we have over 1,000 students on waitlists each year, and we sell out of our summer camp in a matter of weeks. It’s clear that students and artists want to be in our space and part of this community, and we want to be ready to receive them.  

We are so proud to celebrate 60 years of creativity with our community. The future is bright, and we couldn’t be more excited for the many decades to come.  


Jordan Brown, VisArts Executive Director