For me the heartbeat of society lies within its artists. They see life larger and in more color, expressing every human emotion possible within their existence. Their biggest fear is themselves, and they can be their own worst enemy -- their own downfall. And at times they walk a thin line between sanity and madness.
All in the name of art. The commitment, dedication and courage of an artist are not to be taken lightly. Many look down on them as the beggars and vagabonds of society, as representatives of irresponsibility in society. But contrary to that idea, I believe artists are, in fact, the opposite.
It is these individuals who gamble; who see outside of the box; who see dreams as reality and are persistent and passionate and who impact out lives the most. Inside them exists a spiritual connection that is the envy of the rest of mankind, which wishes it could possess such passion.
Why do I say this? Because it takes faith, an ability to dream and a want in something so deeply that you will risk everything you possess, even your sanity to see it to completion. To actualize a dream. It means giving up everything to faith and to God.
By nature humans are critical of one another. We fear what we do not know. We are prejudice of what we do not understand. We act as bullies who back others into corners and make them feel wrong.
Then, when all else fails and the artist is no longer able to be broken, we seek to destroy them. Maybe not physically, but we destroy their place within society. We make them outcasts, we starve their spirit, and we make it difficult for them to make a living. Yet they still survive, exist and even thrive as they find beauty in the world and use it as their muse. That can only be proof of God walking within a man or woman.
When we can no longer control the artists, we start picking a handful of them and labeling various ones as successful, while leaving many of them out. We commercialize a few and then dangle their success in front of the others like a carrot before a rabbit. We place material possessions, money, glitz and glamour in front of them and say, "Look, if you play by my rules, my way, you too can have all of this." And what is all of this for? It is in an effort to control the one thing the rest of us do not possess -- creativity.
I write this piece not to make any one person or group feel guilty. I write it for the lovers of the arts to protect our artists; to shelter them from the vultures that surround us, from the bullies who seek to hurt them and deprive us of their very existence.
We simply cannot continue to live this life without color, variety and beauty. We cannot dwell in caves without sunlight and expect to live a life free of depression and madness. We must feel the warmth of the sun, its rays on our skin, to nourish our souls with the beauty that an artist's soul possesses, a beauty he wants to share with us.
I live in America. I was born in Haiti. Buy my soul, my spirit and my every being is as a citizen of the world.
So when I met Tony Fadel, a director, producer and speaker for artists who shares my same passion, I immediately knew he would be able to connect me to all the right people.
Faded stands 5 foot 9 inches with a slender, model-like physique. His has salt and pepper hair and he wears it slighty messy (a la Richard Gere, oh yeah). His style of dress is simple, less formal, but he was giving me the swagger of De Niro -- tough guy with a soft side. He is a charismatic and welcoming gentleman with the elegance of Giorgio Armani or Ralph Lauren. When he opened up his Rolodex, it was as if the herd came home... Khaled Khadour and Miriam Humaid Al-Mazro to mention a couple. I tell you, I was a mess when I met him.
On my latest trip to the gulf region of the Middle East, I fell in love with a group of what I want to label as "gods and goddesses among men." These artists shared with me their passion, their lives. They freely voiced their challenges and their joys. They expressed their fears, their disappointments; their hurt and their triumphs
When I use the term "gods (goddesses) among men," I am not using that term to blaspheme against the one true God. I am using it in the highest of regards to compliment these courageous people. Because they, with their gifts, embrace, worship and give praise to the Almighty's creations. They seek to imitate His greatest attribute, the power to give life to things through art. These gods and goddesses interpret and express their gratitude through the gift of building, designing and rebuilding words, photos and storytelling to heal our souls while saving themselves.
Dubai at present, in all its grandeur and glamour, hurt me in the sense that its artists are suffering. I feel the city lacks a strong community for the arts -- it does not feed the gems that gleam in their midst.
I looked for galleries, art schools and programs to feed these artists, but I found none. In their defense, I did not look very hard. But with the culture's modern technology and blatant love of the fashion of Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs, I would have thought to see more care and attention given to the arts.
Then a thought came to me: Maybe they need to invite our First Lady, Michelle Obama to visit and discuss the possibility of implementing a program for the arts in Dubai, similar to what can be found in the President's Committee on Arts and the Humanities.
It should be our social responsibility to support the artists of the world and provide them with the means to do for us what we have not been gifted to do for ourselves.
This is in part why I am so excited to have met Tony Fadel, the extraordinary visionary who has done just that. He has put together a group of artists, both young and mature in age, to be heard. I am excited that he is not waiting idly for the opportunity to knock on his door, but is instead jumping at the chance to create the opportunity himself and include fellow artists on his journey. Maybe Fadel is the Obama-like solution for Dubai. And we are the force that is needed to execute his great deed.
I invite all to seek, support, encourage and explore the artists in your community. Your life will be just a little brighter for it.
Thank you, Mr. Antoine Fadel, a Lebanese artist living in Dubai. Thank you for your dedication to the arts and to the next generation of movers and shakers.