For my final project I chose to design and print a mirror inspired by one of my favorite poems, Sylvia Plath’s “Mirror.” The poem is about identity, appearance, growing older, and becoming disillusioned with one’s reflection. I chose to use the last two lines of the poem, which describe an aging woman’s reflection rising through the surface of the mirror “like a terrible fish.” To illustrate this line, I drew a fish in the center of the mirror, attempting to capture the same sense of dissociation and dreamlike unfamiliarity evoked by the poem. This idea was also inspired by the artist’s book I chose to display in our class exhibition: Maureen Cummins’ Crazy Quilt. This book catalogued the names and quotations of women in mental health institutions. Like Plath’s narrator, these women had to grapple with questions of selfhood in relation to their surroundings and how others perceived them. I wanted to continue exploring this theme of women and mental health in my final project. I chose Sylvia Plath’s “Mirror” because it fit this theme and resonated with me personally.
My process began with choosing my text and making a sketch of my design. I chose an ocean-themed color scheme (three different shades of blue) to match the fish image, and to illustrate the metaphor of a mirror being nebulous, bottomless, and potentially dangerous like the ocean. I chose to color the top of the page light blue and gradually darken the gradient towards the bottom to illustrate the poem’s murky, sinister depiction of the aging process.
-Priya Thomas, Scripps '20