Ancestral Works

Ancestral Dinner Party | Digital Paintings | Paternal LineageMaternal Lineage

Inspired by Dr. Spencer Wells’ work with The Genographic Project [1] , these art works (along with site-specific installations to be created on the grounds of the Deering property) reference the ancestral journeys of Miamians born elsewhere across the Western Hemisphere.


4-colombiaTheir common ancestors lived in Africa 60,000 years ago. Some stayed there but, others travelled out of Africa and began to populate the rest of the Eastern Hemisphere.  Of those, a small group crossed the Bering Straits 12,000 years ago and populated the Western Hemisphere.  The others arrived in this hemisphere within the last 500 years. Eventually, all made Miami home.

The artwork shows the interconnectedness between those who came from different countries across the Hemisphere to build their lives in Miami and their relationship to the natural world.  In their blood they capture evidence of the routes their deep ancestors took in response to climatic changes from their original journey out of Africa 60,000 years ago.  Looking at their biology to explore how nature influenced human history, the art piece will use genetic data to create a portrait of Miami’s community.

[1] The Genographic Project, a National Geographic and IBM’s global initiative, is gathering and analyzing the world’s largest collection of anthropological DNA samples in the hope it will capture an invaluable genetic snapshot of humankind’s migratory history and show how we more a like than we are different.

The Genographic Project seeks to answer age-old questions surrounding the genetic diversity of humanity, using DNA as a study tool. The project is a not for profit, five-year, ambitious research partnership of National Geographic and IBM launched in 2005 to use genetics as a tool to address anthropological questions on a global scale. At the core of the project is a consortium of ten global regional scientific teams who, following an ethical and scientific framework, are responsible for sample collection and DNA analysis in their respective regions. The Project is open to members of the public to participate through purchasing a public participation kit from the Genographic website, where they can trace their own ancestry and choose to donate their genetic results to the expanding database.  Sales of the kits are returned to the research and a Legacy Fund for indigenous peoples’ community-led language revitalization and cultural projects.