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Do I Terrify? Sylvia Plath and Katharine Hepburn in Self-Portrait

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Literature +1 Age Levels Middle School (12 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

Although they are primarily known for their other artistic pursuits, both Sylvia Plath and Katharine Hepburn were avid amateur artists. Despite differences in their ages and professions, the two share other similarities as well: both women were born into privilege in New England, both had formative experiences with death in their childhoods, both attended prestigious women's colleges, and both have come to be viewed in popular culture as feminist icons. This collection includes portraits and self-portraits of both women, examples of some of their professional successes, and information on how those successes were defined by the demands of others. How do their self-portraits allow us to understand them beyond their mythology? How can they help us to unpack their various images - public, private, historical, fabled? 

This collection was created in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery's 2017 Learning to Look Summer Teacher Institute. 

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Triple-Face Portrait

Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath

National Portrait Gallery

Lady Lazarus

Haley Potter

Plath Comparison

Haley Potter

Self Portrait as Coco

National Portrait Gallery

Katharine Hepburn

National Portrait Gallery

Katharine Hepburn

National Portrait Gallery

Hepburn Comparison

Haley Potter

Plath vs. Hepburn

Haley Potter

Patti Smith Self-portrait

National Portrait Gallery

Faith Ringgold Self-Portrait

National Portrait Gallery

Self-Portrait (On Being Female)

National Portrait Gallery