Based on the March 2011 Consumer Portfolio Services,

Based on the March 2011 Consumer Portfolio Services, Inc, 19.9 percent of immigrants compared to 13.5 percent of natives lived in poverty in 2010. The higher incidence of poverty among immigrants as a group has increased the overall size of the population living in poverty (Immigrants in the United States: A Profile of America’s Foreign-Born Population). Even though America has opened its borders to immigrants from many different countries, cultures, and background, they are unable to incorporate them all in the American way life because of the lack of equality of opportunity and a chance to rise from the ashes. Many of the immigrants are subjected to bad living conditions and reside in poverty. It is the idea of American Dream the prosperous image of the American way life, rather that the reality of it, that draws in people all over the world. Robert Cottingham, an American photorealist argues that the American Dream is an unattainable fantasy for many; that it is a misconception that the American dream is an escape from the cruelty of life andThe American Dream is the idea that everyone has an equal chance of reaching the top if they work hard enough. It is not as attainable as most people believe because it is not a reality but rather an utopian fantasy. It is the idea of living that fantasy that propels people to move forward, and not the reality of it. It is not realistic to include all the immigrants, that America has opened its border to, in all aspects of  the American Dream. James Adams, a popular historian, believes that  “American dream of a better, richer, and happier life” is the “greatest contribution” to the welfare of the world because it is simply the belief that “tomorrow would be better than today” (Meacham). This hope for the future propels people to keep working towards an invisible and unattainable goal- to live up to the American Dream. And of the very few people who has achieved the American Dream, luck was an essential part of it. For example, in the novel Ragged Dick, Dick gets an opportunity to work as a clerk because of saving his boss’s son. Dick himself says that his “lucky stars were shining pretty bright” (Alger). His moral value, his instinct to save a drowning child, was not the only thing that gave him that opportunity, he needed luck as well because it is  not every day you get to save somebody’s life and get a big reward for it. Luck is something that is completely out of our hand, beyond our control, which is contradictory to the American Dream, because one of the fundamentals of the American Dream is the equality of opportunity and the power to choose one’s own destiny, because luck is not distributed to everyone equally at birth . This idea of American Dream has been flourishing for the last two centuries since the declaration of Independence in 1776, but now “the Protestant ethic has begun to disintegrate (Malanga)”. This moral disintegration of protestant ethics such as ” thrift, integrity, hard work,” (Malanga), essential values of the American Dream, is a result of extreme  materialism. People are so focused on the materialistic gains of the American Dream that they are forgetting the ethical values and is stuck in the ” cycle of acquisition and gratification”. As Former President Obama said in his 2012 inaugural speech “progress will come in fits and starts” (Obama, Victory Speech). The whole idea of American Dream is based on equality of opportunity and it does not come overnight it takes a lot of time– taking a step forward and taking two backward– an almost impossible road to utopian fantasy.  Robert Cottingham, an American photorealist who holds similar views of the American Dream, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. His upbringing in Brooklyn – a diverse city with a rich immigrant culture– fueled his interest in cultural icons (Robert Cottingham, 2001). His artworks represent diversity– one of the underlying values of American society. Cottingham began his professional artistic career as an art director for the advertising firm Young and Rubicam in the 1960s (Robert Cottingham, 2010) when the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was passed, which removed racial barrier, to immigrants coming from non– European countries (U.S. Immigration Since 1965); this event significantly altered the demographics of America and heavily influenced the kind art Cottingham produced. That is why his artworks feature a diverse commercial culture including; paintings, building facades, neon signs, movie marquees, and shop fronts (Robert Cottingham’s ‘Rolling Stock Series No. 7). His art depicts the two most fundamental values America is built on– diversity and capitalism. America’s diversity is what makes it so great, its diversity is what fuels the American Dream to move forward. His painting features the booming commercial culture– capitalism– which gave new hope and opened up doors of opportunity to many people especially immigrants, who crossed miles and came to America for a hope of better life– the American way of life.Robert Cottingham uses texts and colour to convey that although on the surface the American Dream, the American way of life, is the ideal life, for many people it is an unattainable fantasy. Robert Cottingham’s painting Radio Deli City portrays a group of small businesses and stores mostly owned by immigrants as inferred by the signs in the picture such as “deli” and “coiffun”. The different stores represent two underlying value of the American Dream– capitalism and diversity. The names of the different stores “Coca-Cola”, “Coiffun”, and “Deli” are all written in different styles; the signs bring the viewer’s attention to the diversity represented in the stores. These different store signs convey the message that America can incorporate all these different people from different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. It gives how? people the idea that the American way of life is the ideal way of living and it is worth the journey for all those immigrants who left their home and came to America– a country that is full of hope, optimism, and new opportunities.But many of the stores which ones?, small, foreign stores, are covered in shadow, effectively conveying his point that the American Dream is not a reality for everyone. Similarly, the wealthy and prosperous image of the American way of life hides the underlying unattainability of the American Dream for all. Hidden behind the shadows are the truth of the harsh realities of american Dream. The shadows represent all those people still waiting for their chance to shine in life. The big, bright coloured Coca- Cola, a rich multinational company, that takes attention away from those stores covered in shadows., which is ironic considering that the American Dream promotes hard work and equality of opportunity- whereas in his painting Cottingham is putting emphasis only on the rich successful companies.Robert Cottingham uses various fonts and monochrome colours in the painting Cold Beer to convey the message that although the American Dream might appear like an escape from the horrors of life when in reality it is deceiving journey to a life that is not much better than the previous one. The painting portrays an urban immigrant factory area painted in black and white with several advertisements. There is also a fire escape in the painting; the fire escape represents the American Dream, an escape from horrors of life. Most immigrants falsely perceive the American Dream as an alternative to the horrible, poverty-stricken, living conditions they were subjected to back in their home country. But in reality, it is equally as shabby and unsafe. Many people take huge risks when coming to America, leaving their home and family behind, coming to a foreign land in hopes of new opportunities and a better way of life but once they do come here they realize that it is the image and the idea of the American Dream that is so appealing to the mass majority and not the reality of it The prosperous and wealthy image of the American conceals the underlying hardships that most immigrants face. The painting has different shades of grey, it is not plain black and white, similarly, life is not that black and white as most perceives it to be.  Life is full of shades of grey, nothing is just good or bad, similarly, the American Dream is also full of shades of grey– for some, it is a dream come true, some only get to have a fraction of the success and for others, it is an unattainable fantasy. The painting also has a small Coca-Cola advertisement; it is covered in shadow and is written in small font although it is a very a successful multinational company, representing one of the fundamental idea that America is built on- Capitalism.  That conveys message that there is more to America than most sees on the surface of it.. The American way of life is not an Utopian way of life as most perceives rather the utopian appeal of the American Dream hides the moral disintegrity and hardship faced by many people. When looking at the painting the first thing that gets the viewer’s attention is the bolded “Cold Be” which most likely is Cold beer the name of the painting itself. The bolded advertisement about alcohol represents the underlying moral disintegration of the American Dream hidden behind it’s affluent well- to do image of  the American Dream. People throw the money their hard-earned money at alcohol; their escape from the harsh reality of American Dream Cottingham’s New York upbringing is reflected in all his artworks, he effectively incorporated the rich immigrant culture of New York- portraying the life immigrants. His artwork tells us the story of the millions of  unheard voices who comes to America for a hope of better life and new opportunities. A story from different point of view with a different take on the American Dream, telling us about the harsh realities. It is important that we realize and consider the American Dream from the immigrant’s point of view because they make up big percent of the American population, they have a significant impact on the American economy. Today America is the world’s biggest economy and has the highest GDP; immigrants have huge impact on it.    Because America’s diversity is what makes it so great, so unique and a world power, it’s is in their best interest that they incorporate the the point of views’ of the immigrants  


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