The Women’s Center for Creative Work was founded in 2013 by artist Katie Bachler, graphic designer Kate Johnston and cultural producer Sarah Williams. We decided to bring our community together to talk about contemporary feminism and its trajectory in a convivial setting with A Women’s Dinner in the Desert and then A Women’s Dinner in the City, two events which galvanized our community in powerful ways we hadn’t quite anticipated. The need for such events had been churning just under the surface; with those first two dinners we tapped the makings of an exuberant community of women ready to connect and collaborate, discuss and support each other. The network was already forming! We were compelled by this burgeoning community to consolidate, host more events, to give it a name, to look towards the future. The Women’s Center for Creative Work was born.
Katie moved to the east coast in early 2014, and Sarah and Kate carried on the project. During the first year after our founding the WCCW engaged in a nomadic research and development phase called Year Long Laboratory, in preparation for settling into a permanent physical space. We participated in residencies, hosted panels, discussions, workshops & dinners in order to examine different institutional paradigms, network organizational structures, community models, and collective workspace arrangements to inform our groundwork for an organization that can be nurturing to its community as it continues to grow and change.
In the Spring of 2015 we moved into our current location on the bank of the LA River in Frogtown, which houses our offices, community workspace, and the majority of our programming. For the first two years in our brick and mortar space, we presented programming based around a quarterly theme in conjunction with artists in residence, exploring topics such as Soft Power, Civics, and Coalition.
Throughout the year of 2017 we completed a large-scale artist residency at the Huntington Museum and Gardens as part of their /five initiative.
With the hiring of Nicole Kelly, our new Programming Director, in summer 2017, we doubled down on our investment to listening and being accountable to the communities in which we live and work; on offering more opportunities and material resources to a wider audience; and on honing WCCW as a space where learning, organizing, creating, work, conversations, and collaboration towards a more equitable neighborhood, feminism, and city can happen in real life. This collaborative project, called Rethinking: WCCW, helped us reassess our mission, focus, and purpose. We worked with anti-oppression resource and training alliance Aorta to rethink our core values and developed a more intentional approach to our programming.
In 2018, we received funding from the The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to support our Artists in Residence program, and presented the work of Sarita Dougherty, Yasmine Diaz, and iris yirei hu.
In the fall of 2018, Kate transitioned her leadership from being the organization’s in house Creative Director to pursue other projects. (Sarah continues to serve as the WCCW’s Executive Director.) As part of her transition, Kate initiated the WCCW Graphic Design Fellowship, which invites emerging graphic designers to work in house at the WCCW each year, in order to gain the experience necessary to lead within kindred organizations in the future.