DENVER — The American dream: It's what brought many of our families here years ago, some more recently than others.
It’s a chance to leave a tough situation behind and make a better life. One refugee who is making the most of his new life in Denver through a visual medium.
To use the cliche, art provides inspiration.
But at the REAL Academy of Art in Denver, the art director provides both.
Ali Ghassan came to America five years ago from Iraq with a simple dream.
“I came here the first time with my dream. I came to create the school,” Ghassan said.
It wasn't as simple as a dab of paint.
“First time to United States, I did not speak English. That’s the big issue,” he said.
He worked to save money, bought materials and rented a small space.
“He said why don’t you come over I’m starting this little school over here. So I came over and it’s been great ever since. We’ve really expanded since he started,” school board of director Anne Marie Kratz said.
Going from a small space to a school with more than 40 students. One dream made a masterpiece. Last week dream number two came true.
“Now I’m an American citizen,” Ghassan said.
Students sharing their congrats and bringing more red, white and blue to a palette filled with color.
“We’re all really happy. I feel like he’s a better American and then the rest of us,” Kratz said.
“I’m so happy for that for a reality. Like I say as always people here are very nice,” Ghassan said.
And much like art, he's not done showing the light.
“What next? Of course the dream is not going to be stopped,” he said.
He hopes to turn this to an art university one day, which given the path so far, only feels a few brushstrokes away.
“It’s really inspiring. And motivating. Just really shows you can do whatever you want doesn’t matter where you come from as long as you have a dream,” a student, Arielle, said.
Taking what was a blank canvas and filling it with dreams. All that was needed was the right inspiration.