Submitted by Patricia M. Allen
September 28, 2007
Contact: Emanuel Costache '09
Media Relations Intern
Stacey Schmeidel
Director of Public Affairs

AMHERST, Mass.—Ann Fessler, professor of photography at Rhode Island School of Design and a specialist in installation art, will speak about her work at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4, in Pruyne Lecture Hall at Amherst College. Sponsored by the department of art and art history, Fessler’s talk is free and open to the public.

Fessler will speak about the development of her visual work, which includes photography and audio/visual installation, over the last 30 years. She will also discuss her acclaimed non-fiction book, The Girls Who Went Away (2006). In it, Fessler uncovers the history of the 1.5 million women who surrendered children for adoption in the several decades before Roe v. Wade—single pregnant women, caught in the middle and shunned by family and friends. They were expelled from schools and sent away to maternity homes to have their children alone, often treated with cold contempt by doctors, nurses and clergy. Of the book, the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “A collection of deeply moving personal tales bolstered by solid sociological analysis—journalism of the first order.” An adoptee herself, Fessler begins and ends the book with the story of her own successful quest to find her birth mother.

In 2004 Fessler received a prestigious Radcliffe Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University to complete her extensive, five-year research project for The Girls Who Went Away. She is also the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the LEF Foundation, Boston; the Rhode Island Foundation; the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities; Art Matters, New York; and the Maryland State Arts Council.

Fessler received her M.F.A. in photography from the University of Kansas, her M.A. in media studies from Webster University in St. Louis and her B.A. in art from Ohio State University. Her work has been featured at the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, the California Museum of Photography in Riverside, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.