Mitochondrial DNA is a separate DNA sequence that exists solely in the mitochondrial organelles. This sequence is only passed down through the mother, creating a long ancestral line that can be traced back for not only generations, but thousands of years. This DNA sequence is what unifies my series of portraits which are all colour coded drawn representations of the matrilineal members of my family.
In this series of illustrations, maps are displayed over each portrait signifying the memories of these spaces being stored away in their psyche. Each portrait is represented with strong colours that relate to the subjects’ personalities and the environment being depicted. I believe that geography can act as a vehicle for exploring memory and how a space can become part of one’s identity.
I chose to centre my work around this as a way to connect to my mother’s Brazilian heritage while exploring my own cultural identity. As a first generation Canadian, I wanted to fit in with the culture that surrounds me, but also at home. This conflict of being caught between different cultures resulted in never learning my mother’s language which left me with feelings of disconnection and exclusion.
Feminism is a cornerstone of my project. It emphasizes the importance of female figures, just as I want to emphasize the women in my family, their stories, and foster the connection with my maternal lineage.