BURLINGTON, VT.- The Fleming Museum of Art
presents the exhibition, Self-Confessed! The Inappropriately Intimate Comics of Alison Bechdel, featuring the decades-long career of the illustrious cartoonist and graphic memoirist. Bechdel, who lives in Bolton, Vermont, is a MacArthur Foundation genius grant winner, and the third Cartoonist Laureate of Vermonta position unique to the state. Her pioneering comic strip about the lives of a group of lesbian friends, Dykes to Watch Out For, ran from 1983 to 2008 and was syndicated in over fifty alternative papers, including Vermonts Seven Days, which recently published new strips by Bechdel focused on current political events.
In 2006, Bechdel published the graphic memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, which explores her relationship with her father, her coming out, and his possible suicide. Fun Home was a New York Times bestseller and the basis of the Tony-award winning musical of the same name. Bechdel followed up in 2012 with Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama, which follows her relationship with her mother, girlfriends, therapists, and her exploration of psychoanalytic theory. Both books are works of multilayered complexity, employing nonlinear storytelling and a rich trove of literary and historical references.
Self-Confessed! presents these primary bodies of work in depth through original drawings and sketches, while incorporating other aspects of Bechdels creative output, from early drawings to activist ephemera to large-scale self-portraits. The exhibition also includes a model of the set for the musical Fun Home, reconstructed for this exhibition.
The exhibition explores Bechdels work as a writer, an artist, and an archivist of the self, someone who constantly mines and shares her own experiences as a way to communicate something vitally human: the quest for love, acceptance, community, and social justice.
Its been amazing to work with Alison, who has been so generous with her own archive and her time, said Margaret Tamulonis, the Flemings manager of collections and exhibitions and co-curator of the exhibition. This is an unparalleled opportunity to talk about art, memory, and LGBTQ lives in our galleries.
Across the Marble Court from Self-Confessed! is an exhibition of famed French caricaturist Honoré Daumiers series of forty lithographs titled Les Bas-Bleus, or Bluestockings. The prints, published in 1844, satirize upper-class women who sought intellectual stimulation in defiance of their narrowly proscribed roles in society. The exhibition not only creates an interesting juxtaposition with the work of Alison Bechdel but also offers a window into the gender roles of 19th-century France and opens discussion about our current turbulant state of gender affairs.