Dykes Diorama

November 19th, 2014 | Uncategorized

Look at this amazing diorama of Madwimmin Books created by artist Judith Abraham. It’s part of an exhibit at A.P.E. Gallery in Northampton called The Diorama Show. It’s up until December 7th. I’m hoping to get down and see it up close. I’m not quite sure what the scale is, but it looks quite small. See all the miniature books, and the tiny vibrator in the glass display case?



Judith, a.k.a. Iris Bloom, describes her piece like this. “This diorama is based on the underground comic Dykes To Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel which chronicles the cultural history of lesbian feminism in the 80’s and 90’s. It is also a reflection of my personal history. It has been fun to re-imagine this history through the characters of DTWOF in a women’s bookstore where so much of it took place.”

Although the bookstore in my comic strip was based to some extent on the late lamented Amazon Bookstore in Minneapolis, it was also very similar to many other women’s bookstores that used to exist. Like Womanfyre Books, in Northampton itself, where I lived briefly in the 1980s. It’s moving to see that historical space recreated, and it’s very cool  to see my own two-dimensional universe given three-dimensional form. There’s something haunting about seeing the light and shadow falling on real objects. I imagine that seeing it in person will be even more intense. Here’s one more view:


Also, the idea of a diorama reminded me of this scene from Invasion of the Dykes to Watch Out For, circa 2005. Clarice has taken Raffi and Stella to the natural history museum, and there’s a special exhibit on endangered species. There’s a panda diorama, and then in this panel, two more dioramas:

endangered species close-up

12 Responses to “Dykes Diorama”

  1. sparks123 says:

    Too cool! Absolutely wonderful!

  2. Al, et al. says:

    That is just awesome. I miss DTWOF so much.

  3. T. Moore says:

    Now is the time for action figures and assorted playsets: Madwimmin Books, Cafe Topaz, the food collective, the various abodes…

  4. Alex K says:

    “Meta” is the term, I think. Circling inward, spiralling tighter. But AB has left that spiral, although she may look backward at it now and again.

  5. Hardbackwriter says:

    Wonderful – this brings back happy memories of Northampton, and Madwimmin, and I would so buy all the Madwimmin figures (maybe best in Lego)

  6. Jack Sky says:

    Very cool! I didn’t envision Mo as so tall. I miss DTWOF a lot too.

  7. Andrew B says:

    Everybody has noticed what book is on display in the front window, right?

    That last panel is a classic — observing and being observed. Clarice is commenting on Ana and Gloria, but her own relationship is also on the rocks. The viewer/reader knows it, but she doesn’t yet. Which side of the glass are we on?

    It’s also hilarious.

  8. Pam I says:

    There needs to be a whole town, with a railway to connect the shops and tiny Mo, Jezanna etc people who can ride between them. Does this woman lack ambition?

  9. j.b.t. says:

    I wish I could fly there to see it!


  10. Dr. Empirical says:

    I love Northampton. Haven’t been there for twenty years or more, but it’s still my favorite town. Maybe I’ll retire there.

  11. Feminista says:

    Hi everyone–Haven’t visited this blog for awhile,as I’ve migrated over to Facebook,but had heard about the MacArthur…Glad to see some of the old timers here.
    @Kate L: Thanks for mentioning me in your Oct.27 post in the Venice thread,and glad to see you’re fighting the good fight in Kansas.
    I,too,like Mulgrew in Orange is the New Black, as well as many of the other complicated,diverse characters.
    Speaking of Madwimmin,our local feminist non-profit indie bookstore/resource center here in Portland,OR,just celebrated its 21st birthday. Their board has organized an online fundraising campaign,and it looks at this point that they’ll reach their goal.
    Carry on,everyone.

  12. Dang! I missed it. And I know Judith, too.