Alfred Sessler was born in 1909 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As a young boy, Sessler showed an early interest in art when he began drawing cartoons and by the early 1930s, he entered the Layton School of Art. While attending, Sessler began creating artwork that was inspired by the grief and suffering of the American people caused by the Depression. He said, “I have always been a fighter for the underdog”. Not only was he inspired by the anguish of other people, Sessler himself had faced his own financial struggles during the economic collapse. He however was offered aid by the Treasury Relief Art Project during the yeas of 1935 to 1937 and then the Federal Art Project from 1937 to 1942. Under these projects, Sessler became a prolific print maker and was commissioned to create two Post Office murals, one in Lowell, Michigan and the other in Morris, Minnesota.
When the economy was in repair, Sessler began studying at the Milwaukee State Teacher College, where he received his B.S. in 1944. The following year, he received his M.S. from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Soon after, he joined the faculty at UW – Madison, where he founded their revolutionary graphics program. In the late 1950s, Sessler developed a new method for printmaking called the “reduction block”. The method allowed one to create multi-colored woodcuts while employing only one block. Sessler’s successful invention and his founding of the graphics program established UW-Madison as a leader in the field of printmaking, a title still acknowledged to this day.
From the beginning of Sessler’s artistic career, his works were concerned with the human experience, whether sad or humorous. His style ranged from Social Realist to biomorphic abstraction.
Sessler’s works can be seen in a variety of public collections including those by UW-Madison, the Museum of Wisconsin Art, Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Library of Congress.