Welcoming America Commercial - Portrait of a Dreamer
Date: March 15, 2019
This Television Commercial shows Athenaeum Portrait painted by Gilbert Stuart
Portrait of a Dreamer
At a time when the immigration debate is at a fever pitch and immigrants are framed by statistics and policy discussions, we believe it’s important to give a voice to those most affected by this issue. Portrait of a Dreamer is the story of Fidencio Fifeld-Perez, an undocumented artist who came to the US at age seven. Through his curiosity about the actual route he took to come to America, he developed a passion for working with maps as part of the medium for his expression. In this film, we see a glimpse of Fidencio’s experience as a DACA Dreamer who decided to complete the iconic George Washington Athenaeum portrait on the dollar bill.
When I was growing up, art would take me out of my reality which was, I was undocumented, that I was queer. To be an artist at the root of it for me was just to communicate with someone. When I got here, I was 7 years old, and I went from being a straight A student in Mexico to the US where I actually didn't know a single word, and that's why I think America is, it's the teacher that gave me my first coloring book. I didn't have documents to prove who I was, photos or any form of ID. The first time that I started cutting maps, I had this map of the US and Mexico, and I wanted to see if I could find a route that literally brought me here. I think about the George Washington portrait. People want to think of these historical figures as people that weren't flawed. It was a time that was great to a lot of people, but not all the people were at that table. When you parallel America and the unfinished portrait, think about the journey that all of us are still in being in this country and choosing to add another material to that portrait, I see that as an act of freedom. There's an immigrant making it now, and this country is built on people coming here. I can't imagine that decision that my parents made except by rooting it in love. Hopefully people for a moment think of themselves outside of their own identity and think of everyone as a whole. Anything can be a map as long as you can see where you were before, where you are now, hopefully where we end up.
The famous Athenaeum portrait of George Washington used on the dollar bill was painted in 1796.
It was left unfinished.
Fidencio Fifield-Perez, a DACA recipient, decided to finish it.
It takes us all to make us whole
Building a nation of neighbors
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