Tackling Social And Economic Issues Through Art

Jay Z rapped about a “Hard Knock Life” back in the late 90s. And while his life has tremendously changed for the better, financial wise, it remains pretty hard knock for many around the world. Inspired by poverty and deteriorating economy in Zimbabwe among other things, we explore ‘Manual’, a series of sculptures by Zimbabwean artist Michelle Mathison.

Through symbolic sculptures Michele explores the relation between cultural and manual work.¬†Integrity for making an honest living and brutality perhaps for the hard labour that manual work requires and yet it’s always associated with “poor skills” and lower social rank. How ironic considering that those considered high class use the very same structures e.g roads and railways built by these workers. A two-wheeled carriage, a hoe and a shovel, all deemed cheap and they might be. But there’s nothing cheap about the end result made from these objects.


I find that people and places can regard the same object in very different ways. I am interested in these double and multiple meanings because they allow me to present different sides to the story without necessarily stating my intention or point of view”. – Michelle Mathison


2 thoughts on “Tackling Social And Economic Issues Through Art

  1. Art is a subjective word. One can call life itself art. As for this being art, from my perspective, it is a waste of time and money. Useless. I would pass it by and not even think twice about it. Some people simply have too much time on their hands and not enough talent to express themselves properly.

    Michelle may think of it is art. Some sort of experiment to see how people view different things in different ways. All I view is a cart full of container, which I can view anywhere. A shovel is a shovel is a shovel, even if you mold them together. Actually, utilitarian wise, they are more useful as shovels than the molded figure that she put together.

    Then I view some sort of metal spiked, curved into some form. It is the closet item of art in the exhibit. They provide no emotional connection. They provide no meaning within my perspective. If others see something in it then great.

    Personally, I know many artists whose work is truly amazing who would like to fill that space with art that actually means something.

    Those are my thoughts.

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