Ann Fessler



Artist: Fessler, Ann

Title/Date: Genetics Lesson, 1992                     

Description of the work:

Genetics Lesson is an artist book based on Fessler’s installation of the same name. The book uses both type and image together in a modular grid. As the sixth book created by the artist, it is her most structurally complex of all. The book contains several gatefolds which allow the reader to read the book in innovative ways. The cover of the book is a blue hue with an image in the center. The blue cover almost seems woven as the texture resembles that of fabric. The image is yellow in the upper sections of the composition depicts a classroom setting with what seems to be a teacher holding a long pointer in the direction of a picture of the female reproductive organs. On the left hand corner of the image, is a magenta triangular line shape. The magenta triangle breaks the consistency of the exclusively yellow and black image. About an inch below the image is the tittle of the book, Genetics Lesson, which is displayed in a yellow Serif typeface. Inside the book is a story in which Fessler remembers her installation on the first page. After turning the page, viewers are shown an image of a woman holding a child. The image fills the spread and contains a gatefold on the verso side. Upon opening it, viewers are presented with a close-up image of a man’s face. This is meant to depict the level of intimacy of the man and the woman.

Blue, yellow and magenta are used in the book and are consistent throughout every spread. Close-up images of human figures are used as well and either fill one page or a whole spread. Images used within the book are based off her installation as well. The interactive book opens as the reader pleases and can be read in various ways in order to uncover different components of the story.

Artist’s Biography:

Ann Fessler is an American filmmaker, visual artist and author. She has received her BA from Ohio State University in Columbus, the MA at Webster University and, finally, the MFA from the University of Arizona.  Her work primarily focus on feminism, women lives and relationships. Fessler’s focus on stories of women have become a prominent theme throughout her career. For some of her projects, she has followed different subjects, including first person narratives of adoption and bringing them forth to the public. Currently, Fessler is a professor of photography at Rhode Island School of Design and has been a faculty since 1993. She has also had the role of head of the Photography Department and the director of the graduate program. Her artist books and other works can be seen in collections from different museums of art including the Whitney Museum of American Art.


Signed: no

Date and dimension: 1992; 8” x 5 ¾”    

Medium: Artist book

Accession # and Acquisition Date: 1997.01.15; 1997         

Condition: Excellent

Provenance and Exhibitions: N/A

Framed or Flat: Flat

Current location: Piece is part of the University Art Gallery’s permanent collections at New Mexico State University         


Ann Fessler webpage Biography Section Page: accessed by October 19, 2016                      

RISD webpage Photography Faculty Page: accessed by October 19, 2016,

Reproductions: Unknown

Researched By: Jesus Zubia, 19 October 2016