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SOLD, Acrylic on Canvas
This piece was done for the RACT (Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania) Insurance Tasmanian Youth Portraiture Prize art competition.
I became an Australian citizen on Australia Day 2009. I eagerly looked forward to this since immigrating here from America in 2003 (because of marriage); nevertheless, my journey to dual citizenship has been filled with emotion and confusion.
I struggle to be accepted as a “Tasmanian” amongst Tasmanians. Strangers regularly ask me how long I’m on holiday and friends affectionately still refer to me as “Yank”. Such things constantly remind me that I’m still an alien in Tasmanian eyes.
But who is a Tasmanian?
There’s a discrepancy between what Americans actually are and what Aussies think Americans are. I believe this mostly arises from a biased media that portrays America in a somewhat negative (and untruthful) light. This distances me from Australia, and I’m forever working to dispell these misconceptions amongst my fellow Aussies who misunderstand who I am.
Anti-American sentiment here, especially during the unpopular Bush era, has intimidated me. Although the vast majority of Tasmanians receive me, for the first time in my life I’ve experienced hurtful prejudice from a few. Sadly, I must bear the mistakes of my country’s leaders and citizens along with warranted and unwarranted anti-American sentiment, even though I usually have nothing to do with what’s directly incited the anger.
How I’m categorised by Aussies determines how I’m treated. Though I’ve formally pledged my devotion to Australia, I wonder if I’ll ever earn the right to be an “Aussie” in Australian eyes.
Am I an alien…or a local?
Am I “us”…or “them” ?
Where is “home” ?
This painting reflects my love for both countries but also the inward confusion of belonging to both and yet not fully “belonging” in either. It also conveys my sadness over the alienation, intimidation and misunderstanding I sometimes feel amongst a few of my fellow Australians.