"As far as I was concerned, my inner monologue had begun to hush. A loud and sharp ringing in my ears took place as I began to quake in anger as tears streamed down my cheek. This pitiful ‘ethnic’ cheek. I wasn’t a person after all. I was simply this exotic thing for people to observe and investigate, an alien in any environment I was in. Never mind my character, personality, or interests; the first questions from most people in my unit were regarding my ethnicity. Who was I and where was I really from, as I couldn’t really be an American?"
- "Quixote in Ramadi"
"Alone in a Sea of Faces" is one of my newest pieces of art that captures the essence of feeling like a perpetual outsider, a sentiment often experienced by foreigners in new surroundings as well as how I felt as a Soldier deployed to Iraq with a unit filled with white supremacists.
The art piece, situated in the heart of Florence, illustrates the lived experience of being foreign in a city that's steeped in centuries of tradition and history. The city's architecture, landmarks, and culture are awe-inspiring. However, quite a few locals had no problem in reminding me how I didn't belong.
The sea of faces in the background represents the constant stares, whispers, and sometimes outright hostility that made me feel isolated and alone.
The painting portrays a singular figure standing amidst a crowd, their individual features facing away from the observer, reinforcing the idea of an outsider looking in. The use of cool, detached blues and greens starkly contrasts with the hues used for the crowd, further accentuating how one might possibly blend in but also stand out in a way that seems threatening to others.
This artwork encapsulates the experience of being treated as an outcast, amplified by suspicious and wary glances from locals. The figure's slightly hunched posture and averted gaze imbue the painting with a tangible sense of discomfort, as if they are shrinking away from the unspoken accusations and mistrust.
Yet, within this expression of alienation, there's a compelling undercurrent of resilience. The figure, though alone and different, stands their ground, a testament to the strength individuals often discover within themselves when navigating unfamiliar terrain.
"Alone in a Sea of Faces," therefore, transcends its canvas to become a mirror, reflecting the realities of cultural dissonance and the human spirit's indomitable will to adapt and endure.
This art piece is not just a commentary on being an outsider in Florence, but a universal narrative of dealing with alienation and finding one's place, no matter how different or distant.