Stephen Fessler


Stephen Fessler has an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, a BFA from Ohio Wesleyan University, and received his first art training at Backangskolan, Boras, Sweden. Living in a refugee camp in Thailand for three years, he taught students who had never painted before. He painted at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito as a Fellow of the Ohio Arts Council, from whom he has also received two Artist Fellowships. He is also the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship for 2007. He has had numerous exhibitions nationally and abroad, with one at the American Ambassador's Residence in New Delhi. He has received many awards including winning publication in New American Paintings three times, most recently in 2007.

Artistic Statement: 

All of my images arise from accident. I keep my studio floor covered with canvases to accumulate paint marks, then tack them to the wall and gaze at them. Certain random arrangements of marks will suggest an image, and I will paint to clarify it. One discovery suggests another, and gradually the painting reveals itself. Reflected in my work are my lifelong interests in the natural sciences and the world's mythologies and folklore, along with memories of things seen while living and traveling abroad. My process is a succession of surprises, so for students, I design projects that depend on the occurrence of the unexpected, to create a situation in which participants, manipulating paint and other media, may be surprised by the emergence of their own ideas.

Residency Type: 
Individual Artist