Self-Confessed! The Inappropriately Intimate Comics of Alison Bechdel
January 30 – May 20, 2018
In the spring of 2018, the Fleming Museum of Art presents an exhibition of the work of Alison Bechdel, spanning her illustrious, decades-long career. A renowned cartoonist and graphic memoirist who lives in Bolton, Vermont, Bechdel is a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant winner, and the third Cartoonist Laureate of Vermont—a 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 alternativepapers, including Vermont’s Seven Days, which recently published new Dykes 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 Both books are works of multilayered complexity, employing nonlinear storytelling and a rich trove of literary and historical references.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 Bechdel’s 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 Bechdel’s 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.