Arts + Literature Laboratory (ALL) was founded in New Haven, Connecticut by artist Jolynne Roorda and poet Dianne Bilyak, along with founding members Caryn Azoff, Lisie Orjuela, and Howard el-Yasin. ALL opened on June 6, 2003, with its first exhibition, "Inside the Box," after converting a storefront office into a gallery at 5 Edwards Street. As a cooperative organization, ALL members developed a series of exhibitions in both the main gallery and a project room called "Lab II," the Word of Mouth monthly poetry reading series, workshops, collaborative projects, acoustic concerts, The Salon, and other programs. In late 2005, ALL relocated to a much larger space at Erector Square Studios, where it continued its programming until February 2008. The members of ALL closed the gallery space in order to focus more time on their individual artwork and other collaborative projects, but the group held exhibitions in other locations through 2009, and the Word of Mouth poetry reading series continues to thrive in a new location, now known as The Poetry Institute.
In 2015, ALL moved to Madison, Wisconsin, with changes to meet the needs of this new city, but the same focus on collaboration and community. As she met with local artists and writers, Jolynne was introduced to poets Rita Mae Reese and Angela Voras-Hills, founders of a new writing organization known as The Watershed. Jolynne invited The Watershed to curate the monthly poetry reading series at ALL, which was originally going to be called The WALL reading series ("The Watershed at ALL"), but within a short time it was decided that the two organizations would merge and work together to pursue our shared vision of creating space and opportunity for Madison artists.
ALL's Madison art space opened on November 12, 2015, at 2021 Winnebago Street, with the first Watershed Reading featuring six poets from the anthology New Poetry from the Midwest 2014 and an exhibition of Julie Franki's illustrations for The Book of Hulga. ALL incorporated as a Wisconsin nonprofit organization in January 2016 and a grand opening celebration was held on January 23, 2016.
We thank all of the artists, writers, performers and supporters, past and present, who have helped to shape ALL - both in New Haven and Madison.