Art Education Lifts The American Dream

Title: Education Lifts The American Dream // Artist: Sheila Farren Billings // Date: October, 2021

Each of us is responsible for making the American Dream a reality for ourselves, our fellow citizens, and people striving to become American citizens. How do we do this? We take full advantage of the free education offered to us in the public schools, then we take what we learn and use it. We seek out truth. We reject falsehoods. We vote, and keep track to insure that our elected officials are working for us to keep the American Dream alive.

My father immigrated to the USA from a country where education was inequitable. The result was a population that became more divided and hateful with each generation. That experience made him value the education available to everyone in this country and it made me want to become a public school teacher. I loved my time teaching in Salem, MA and recognized the gift my diverse students gave each other — the knowledge that our differences are what make us stronger.

Our American Dream is only as real as we allow it to be. We must work together to keep it alive. We who are immigrants or the children of immigrants know first hand that even with all the inequities and injustices in the United States, it is better than where we came from.

My father said that even when freedom and justice for all isn’t the reality in the US, at least it is the ideal written in our Constitution. He insisted that it is our responsibility to work towards that ideal every single day. My mural will focus on education as the catalyst that will inspire us, inform us, and lead us out of the darkness of ignorance, oppression, and inequity. A flock of flying books, representing truth, education, and information are flying up out of darkness to the light. The books will be painted in a rainbow of colors, representing the colors of the flags of all the countries our citizens have left to pursue The American Dream. The closed books in the lower corner are asleep, dreaming. But to make The American Dreaming work, we must do the work. The books gradually begin to open, as they open they fly. Learning and knowledge lead them and us up to new heights. I hope that we, as citizens of the USA, do not lose heart because of the hate and untruths being sewn by enemies of democracy. We must remember that we are the majority. We must fly above darkness and despair and keep the hope that brought us here alive — for ourselves, our children, and those people still striving to join us in the quest for freedom.