Two months ago, Spirit of ‘68 Promotions announced that Laura Stevenson would be returning to The Bishop for a second year in a row. Within three days of the announcement, I had at least five people either message me or come up to me and ask if I heard the good news. Yes, I had, I may have squealed in joy, and I’ve already purchased my ticket. In honor of one of my favorite artists return to Bloomington this fall, I want to examine Stevenson’s song “Master of Art” from her album Sit Resist in a political context. “Master of Art” is political because it talks about Stevenson leaving her partner to pursue a Masters in Art and the music video for the song also gives homosexual love a stage.
The most obvious political theme in “Master of Art” is that the protagonist in the song (whom we can assume is Stevenson) is leaving her love to pursue her Masters in Art, reinforcing the existing trend of an increase in women going to college versus men. The lines in the song that allude to this are, “All I could pray for is that you’d please wait for/me until I am a Master of Art/until I have learned everything.” According to a Pew Research Center Study, in 1994 63% of female high school graduates were entering college directly versus 61% of males. In 2012, females immediately enrolling in college had increased to 71% versus their male counterparts who have remained unchanged at 61%. The growth is significant because people that have college degrees tend to earn more in their lifetimes versus their non-degree holding counterparts. Thus, women going off to college in higher numbers than men gives them more opportunities financially as well as career-wise.
The other political message in “Master of Art” is that all love is equal. The music video is unique in the sense that it showcases homosexual love, thus gives it an equal stance with heterosexual love and puts Stevenson on the right side of history with this artistic choice. During the last segment of the video, it showcases the paintings coming to life in the gallery and making out with patrons. At 3:42, two of the male paintings kiss, solidifying Stevenson’s stance on gay marriage. At the date when the video was released, only five states and Washington D.C. had legalized gay marriage. A couple of months later, Stevenson’s home state of New York passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. A year and a few months later, President Barack Obama’s voiced his opinion on gay marriage, affirming that same-sex couples should legally have the option to get married. Stevenson took a risk in revealing her personal beliefs and standing up for all types of love by having the two characters kiss in the video. Even if it was just for a second, it showed that all types of love are beautiful and should be recognized.
In conclusion, “Master of Art” explores the political themes of female advancement in college as well as accepting gay marriage. In the song, Stevenson chooses to pursue her Masters and gives herself the opportunity to have a higher standard of living, exemplifying the upward trend of women attending college. Stevenson also highlights homosexual love by showing a kiss between two men during her video, which was a risk that was definitely worth taking. By showing her opinion on gay marriage, it allowed her fans to see the beauty in all types of love .Even though both of these issues are being addressed in the US and are getting fixed at a snail’s pace, “I could lie and say to you that” *the work we need to do on both of these issues* “will soon be over.” Stevenson’s song, though, is taking a good first step.