If there’s one pop star who can make me nearly swerve off the road while driving, due to wild one-armed dancing action paired with a silent weep, it’s my good friend Kelly Clarkson. Here is my confession: I am a big blubbery emotional softie smoosh. Like, the emotional equivalent of Dairy Queen. Many things set me off, but nothing moreso than a good impassioned pop tune. I like to play such hits on my banjo, but I often have to take breaks for my voice to crack when I start to sob ever so slightly at the chorus or bridge. And “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson is one of those that brings a tear to my eye almost every time.
Great artists don’t just have to exist in galleries. Books have given us some really inspirational pre- or post-feminist characters that are good at art, and this liberates them either emotionally or physically. What unites them is their independent thinking, as they are determined to go against the grain and not end up like their peers, bitter or vacuous. Some examples here are from classic novels, such as Jane Eyre, where art is a form of escapism for our heroine, whereas in Andrew Davidson’s modern novel The Gargoyle we find a sculptress whose work is so consuming that it leaves her exhausted. Whatever the situation, it is clear that these women take their art seriously—it’s not just a hobby to keep them occupied before they’re whisked off by Prince Charming. This is so much better than a fairytale.