Monday, October 15, 2012


Expatriate.  Stitched words: I left the USA to pursue artistic opportunities; Ballet Dancer. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin. Hand stitched and beaded. 25" x 19" unframed; 31" x 25" framed.  Click on image to enlarge.

This is my elder son Mathias Lenz Dingman. ( This portrait was created during his fourth year with Birmingham Royal Ballet at which time he was promoted to "First Artist". He is a citizen of the United States of America, files annual income tax here, uses our address as his "permanent" place of residency for US government documents, and returns "home" to visit us.... and his dentist and his eye doctor. His entire professional career, however, has been danced in a foreign country.... in England. That makes him an "expatriate".  (Since then, Mathias was promoted to "Soloist" in 2011 and to "First Soloist" in 2012.  Obviously, Steve and I are proud parents!)

At first, Mathias was concerned about the title. Instantly, he (like many people) assumed that the word included a dislike for one's country, something lacking patriotism and respect. That isn't the case! Here's a definition from Wikipedia:

An expatriate (in abbreviated form, expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing or legal residence. The word comes from the Latin term expatriātus from ex ("out of") and patri
ā the ablative case of patria ("country, fatherland").

Wikipedia goes on to say:
In its broadest sense, an expatriate is any person living in a different country from where he or she is a citizen. In common usage, the term is often used in the context of professionals sent abroad by their companies, as opposed to locally hired staff (who can also be foreigners). The differentiation found in common usage usually comes down to socio-economic factors, so skilled professionals working in another country are described as expatriates, whereas a manual labourer who has moved to another country to earn more money might be labelled an 'immigrant'. There is no set definition and usage does vary depending on context and individual preferences and prejudices.

This is definitely Mathias! He's a highly skilled professional living and working in a different country. He loves both places. So why did he accept a job in England? Well, the opportunity with Birmingham Royal Ballet offered more performances per season, better pay, better benefits, and a chance to advance with one of the world's very best companies. He became an expatriate for artistic opportunities.

The words on his portrait are intentionally similar to the words on the Decision Portrait called Immigrants.  The two people who posed for Immigrants are Mathias' friends. They live in Columbia, South Carolina. They came to the USA for artistic opportunities.

All three made the same decision.... to leave their homeland for a chance to dance more often, for more money, and for all the other factors that figure into "artistic opportunities". The titles are different only from point of view … from which country the decision is considered.

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