- Text by Dominique Sisley
A new exhibition showcasing Sylvia Plath’s secret art collection has opened in Washington D.C’s Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. The show, titled One Life, offers an insight into the Pulitzer-prize winning poet’s complex creative life – celebrating, for the first time, her natural gift for visual art and imagery.
Plath is most famous for her boundary-breaking literary work; from her savvy coming-of-age novel The Bell Jar to her chilling poetry collection Ariel, written in the months leading up to her suicide. What she’s less known for, though, is her life-long devotion to drawing, painting and the arts.
One Life includes a varied selection Plath’s art. There are politically-charged collages, sketches, water colours, comic strips and a collection of abstract paintings, offering a rare glimpse into the iconic author’s personal life. If that wasn’t enough, the show also displays a number of other personal objects, including “personal letters, self-portraits, and family photographs.”
“Sylvia Plath’s fascination with images and imaging was a strong part of her identity,” says Dorothy Moss, curator of painting and sculpture at the Smithsonian. “The exhibition allows us to see what she described as her ‘visual imagination’ in all its complexity.”
Sylvia Plath: One Life will be shown at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery until May 20, 2018.