Our Ancestry


How can I participate in the Contemporary Casta Portraiture: Nuestra "Calidad" Project?  

You can become part of this real-time art project, and learn details about your own ancestry, by contacting contact me, Delilah Montoya, at dmontoy2@gmail.com or 505 256 9290.  You will be interviewed as a possible candidate.   Subject to the interview, you will be given a self-administered Geno 2.0 kit.   Then a photographic shoot with your family will be scheduled either at your home or work place.

Will I be charged for the DNA study and family portrait?

You will NOT be charged for the DNA study, photographs of the shoot, or the exhibition print for the Contemporary Casta Portraiture: Nuestra "Calidad" (the family portrait project.  These items are my way of saying thank you for helping me with this project. 

How will my DNA be collected?

The Geno 2.0 kit from the National Geographic Genographic Project is a self-administered cheek swap test.  The directions are very easy to follow.   Basically, you swap both cheeks with a pair of special q-tips collecting DNA cells that will be sent by mail for analysis and then the data is posted on a secure website.      

I have question about the Geno 2.O testing?

Questions about the National Geographic Genographic 2.0 project and kit can be answered at their informative FAQ website

When will I receive my Geno 2.0 DNA results? 

Due to the high number of participants of the Genographic Study, some results may take up to 10 weeks to process from the time they are received at the lab. Thank you for your patience. Once completed your results will be posted on your personal secure web data site.   At your discretion, I will ask that you share the password with me so that I can review and use the results for the family portrait project.

Is DNA testing a requirement to participating in the art project?

The DNA component to the family portrait is optional.  All though the information gleaned from the study may give insight to where your ancestry came from and how accurate your family’s history is in regard to the DNA study it is not necessary in determining how you are represented for the portrait.  Your self-representation is ultimately based on your unique family history and your own self-identity. 

How will the data from the National Geographic Genographic Project be represented in the family portraits?

Since the formal family portraits will not be identify by the family’s name.  The participants names will remain nameless.   The portrait will then represent the family as one among 16 other family portraits.   As such, the DNA will be used as an addition to the family’s visual image.  I am not clear exactly how the heat map or the Population Reference DNA data from the Genographic Project will be used within the formal portrait.  I am still working through those visual formal issues but I am certain that the DNA will only be used as a reference to the formal portrait.  The DNA will not be the bases of the portrait but like the Colonial Casta Portrait equivalent it will be a factor in the portrait’s construction.  Of course the data will be used with respect to and in agreement with the prospective family. 

Is this a genealogy study? 

This is NOT a genealogical study, and your DNA trail may not lead to your present-day location. Rather, your results will reveal the anthropological story of your ancestors—where they lived and how they migrated around the world over tens of thousands of years. The autosomal results will reveal insights into recent admixture over the past 6 generations—for instance, if you have one parent of Asian descent and another from Western Europe, this mix will be reflected in your results. 

Will my DNA test results become public? 

Your test results will remain anonymous, in that your name will not be used as part of your family portrait. Certainly those that recognize you will be able to identify who you are but your name or family name will not be used as part of the art project.  This art project is aimed at documenting current colonial families in the same way that the colonial cast paintings depicted ethnic and social structures of their generation. 

When will I receive the photographic print of my family's portrait? 

Once the project is completed that is when all sixteen families have been photographed and their portraits have been rendered and multiple copies of 20 photographs per shoot have been printed, I will be able to give all the participants an editioned print.   This might take time but please be patient. Good art takes time and effort.   You will not be forgotten, that is a promise. 

How will you resolve the art project: Contemporary Casta Portraiture: Nuestra "Calidad"?  How will you present your outcomes? 

I will conclude the project with a series of family portraits representing our contemporary social structure and colonial ethnic groups.   I am working to construct 16 family portraits.  There will be no more than 20 copies of each portrait printed.  The images will be exhibited in various art venues as a body of work that will include a catalog explaining the project's inspiration and QR code website of the DNA data . 

Is the project Contemporary Casta Portraiture: Nuestra "Calidad" a research study with published articles in journals? 

This project is NOT a scientific or anthropologic research study.  The family portraits or DNA test will NOT result in a research paper or publication.  However, the images will be represented as artwork in art catalogs or art journals but NEVER has a formal research study.  This is not that sort of project – I am not a researcher or scientist but an artist who explores culture as a way of understanding our community.   

Are you working to achieve you own agenda or working with the communities to assist in visualizing, articulating, and developing a broader understanding of who are the colonial people of America?

As an artist, my own personal quest in image making is the discovery and articulation of not only my Chicano culture but also those cultures that have a profound influence on how my world is understood.  My artistic vision is an autobiographical exploration, but one that has far reaching implications for both the community, and the preservation of our unique history.   As a Chicana artist, my work, interpreted as an alternative to the mainstream, stands as a personal statement that evokes an identity.   I aspire to originate the artist's voice.   My work, however, is more than a personal statement, for it is rooted in and informed by history.  It is my hope that Contemporary Casta Portraiture: Nuestra "Calidad"will provide a broader understanding of the colonial people of America.  A quick answer to the question is yes.  I hope to not only to achieve my own agenda, but also more importantly provide insights of who we are as a Colonial Community.  

How are you respecting and protecting the dignity of the families that are being presented?

My intention is to thoughtfully collaborate with the family who agrees to take part in the Contemporary Casta Portraiture: Nuestra "Calidad".  You as the family being depicted will consent where in your home or work place to backdrop the portrait.  I will ask you where you want the picture taken.   It will also be your choice to use DNA testing or family history in the depiction of your ethnic heritage.  My interested is to collaborate with the family so that the portrait reveals a truthful and considerate depiction.

To whom and how are you soliciting participants and how are you seeking guidance from the community.

By approaching knowledgeable colleagues familiar with in the specific colonial communities and also working with communities that I know, I am imploring families within those social groups.  I am continually mindful and actively reflecting on myself for any assumptions I maybe making that influence the way I interact with the families within the target communities.  I am taking time to reflect on the information and how it translates into the communities understanding of social structure and ethnicity.  My approach is to give the family time to translate the project into their worldview. I appeal to families from a positive framework in how I perceive their community.