Freedom of expression – coloring outside the lines

A column By YLN Journalism Explorer Isabella Hurley

Freedom of expression is one of the most important aspects of life, and it is something we are starting to take for granted. To me, freedom of expression is a creative form of communication that is unique to everyone. It has the power to help you sort through your thoughts or communicate your emotions in a productive way. Unfortunately, I feel freedom of expression is losing its value or worth in our modern society, and it is not being taught or encouraged to a sufficient extent to fully benefit all kinds of students or people. I believe that freedom of expression is extremely valuable, but unfortunately, it is beginning to slip from importance.

By Isabella Hurley

My whole life I’ve grown up around extremely creative and artistic people. People like my mom, who was a full-time artist when she was younger, or my dad who wonders around the house strumming his guitar, have fostered a core sense of importance for the arts within me. Being able to be creative and freely convey your emotions, allows not only for you to create artwork, but also for you to find your own personal identity or style. For most of my life, despite being around artists at home, I was surrounded by encouraged normalcy in the arts by teachers and society. I was told to color inside of the lines and make my drawings look the same as everyone else’s; neat, pretty and perfect. I could never meet that expectation and I never understood why. I never understood why my more perfectionist geared classmates in school were praised for having neat and pretty drawings and why mine were frowned upon by my teachers and classmates (especially in elementary school). I ended up assuming that I was just a terrible artist. I only got more and more frustrated as the years went on, project after project, when my work didn’t look like everybody else’s and I was getting lower grades as a result. I hated my art for years and it wasn`t until my current art teacher recognized and appreciated my unique style, did I too recognize it. Now, I’m not saying I am some fantastic artist (far from it) but I know now that I do have a unique style in my work. Mr. Reagan, my art teacher, was the first person in my life to encourage my, what I always thought to be strange, style. He encouraged my big and messy scribbles that I incorporated into my drawings and he encouraged my own unique angle that I took on a piece that no one else may have considered. He encouraged my revulsion for not wanting to literally color inside the lines and he helped me discover my artistic individuality.

Educators and society are both suppressing unique creativity more and more. They claim to encourage creativity and individuality, but only if it’s what they deem as “acceptable creativity,” instead of nurturing all forms of freedom of expression. Such as in my case, where they shook their heads at my seemingly strange chaotic style in my art. Standing out and being yourself, although corny, is part of freedom of expression and, without it, we don`t know who we are and are only lost in what we are told what we “should” or “shouldn’t” be. Freedom of expression allows you to find yourself and discover your own unique quirks that at the end of the day, aren`t necessarily a bad thing.

Isabella Hurley, George Walton Academy

Isabella Hurley is a Journalism Explorer with Your Local News. She is a freshman with George Walton Academy. You can read her bio here.

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