Painting outside the lines

If pieces of art go against the social norm, do they make us see the world in a new light?

There are few things in the world that allow us to express ourselves the way that the arts do. Art has an uncanny ability to make us feel empowered, accepted and less alone.

Arguably, the best thing about art is that it has the ability to inspire us. It makes us feel something and can help us turn feeling into action. It can drive us, motivate us, spur us on to act.

Mavericks in Literature

Tracy Chevalier‘s collection of short stories is entitled Reader, I Married Him – inspired by the most famous line in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. The conclusion to the collection reflects on one of history’s first stories to defy social expectations.

Set in 1847, the heroine Jane Eyre is an impoverished orphan with no other family who, by the end of the novel, becomes a governess, the underdog who rises from the dirt. In the 19th century women had little power to determine their own future, so you would expect the line to go “Reader, he married me,” or even “We got married.” But this story sees Jane making the choice to spend her life with Rochester and be the driving force of her own life.

To celebrate and remind people of that self-determination and going against social norms, Chevalier created a collection of short stories from this generation that have the same effect of encouraging people to strive for change (To buy the book, click here).

Reader I Married him by Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier’s collection of short stories Reader, I Married Him (Credit: The Borough Press)

Illustrated Rebellion

In modern times, new platforms are supporting artists going against society’s expectations. Kidmograph, also known as Gustavo Torres, is an Argentinian video artist, illustrator, and art director who tackles social issues through his art.

He makes Matrix-style GIFs and music videos that sit between both the digital world and reality whilst denying to commit to either. It reflects on modern day society and how people live their lives in part in the ‘real’ world whilst the other half is stuck in the virtual one.

Musical insurgents

Actions speak louder than words, but sometimes lyrics speak even louder. The politically charged anti-Trump anthem Land of the Free by The Killers touches on a variety of important issues currently happening the US.

The second bridge of the song opens with the powerful line “but if you’re the wrong colour skin (I’m standing, crying), you grow up looking over both your shoulders,” referring to the ongoing race issue in America, and reflecting on topics discussed in last year’s Blackkklansman by filmmaker Spike Lee, who created the music video and is an outspoken critic of President Trump.

The song refers to Trump’s plans to build a wall segregating North America and Mexico, and addresses gun violence and school shootings:

“So how many daughters, tell me, how many sons do we have to have to put in the ground before we just break down and face it: we got a problem with guns?”

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