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Smithsonian Exhibit Showcases Sylvia Plath’s Original Artwork

PHOTO: Courtesy The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, © Estate of Sylvia Plath

The legendary author was a surprisingly talented visual artist.

© Rosalie Thorne McKenna Foundation, courtesy Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona Foundation

Feminist heroine and writer extraordinaire Sylvia Plath is again being lauded posthumously, this time for her lesser-known work in the visual arts. The poet and novelist’s artwork, personal letters, family photographs, and relevant objects are on display in an exhibition called “One Life: Sylvia Plath” at the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Museum.

Self-Portrait in Semi-Abstract StyleEstate of Robert Hittel, ©Estate of Sylvia Plath
CollageMortimer Rare Book COllection, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts,©Estate of Sylvia Plath
1. Self-Portrait in Semi-Abstract Style | Estate of Robert Hittel, © Estate of Sylvia Plath 2. Collage |  Mortimer Rare Book Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, © Estate of Sylvia Plath

Through her own exploration of duality, a theme deeply entrenched in her writing, the images and objects reveal Plath’s personal challenges with binary gender standards.

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Courtesy The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. © Estate of Sylvia Plath

“Sylvia Plath’s fascination with images and imaging was a strong part of her identity,” Dorothy Moss, curator of painting and sculpture at the Portrait Gallery, says in a statement. “The exhibition allows us to see what she described as her ‘visual imagination’ in all its complexity.”

Sylvia Plath
A War to End Wars Mortimer Rare Book Collection, Smith COllege, Northampton, Massachusetts,©Estate of Sylvia Plath
1. Sylvia Plath’s Childhood Ponytail | Courtesy The Lilly LIbrary 2.  A War to End Wars | Mortimer Rare Book Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, © Estate of Sylvia Plath

The exhibit runs until May 20, 2018 in Washington, D.C.

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