When most artists decide to do portraits of their family, they ask their parents or siblings to pose for them. Laurel Nakadate, however, took a DNA test and began corresponding with strangers on websites who shared her DNA.
Nakadate is of Japanese-American lineage and said looking at the DNA from her maternal side unlocked the complex backgrounds shared by most Americans.
“My mother’s DNA revealed that, as with most Americans, there is nothing simple about the history of her family in America. She descends fromMayflower passengers, African slaves, indentured servants, and prominent figures in American history such as Anne Hutchinson, the Quaker martyr, Mary Dyer, and the McCoys of the famous feud.”
Because I share DNA with each person in the “Relations” photographs, these portraits are also modern-day self-portraits. “
“I wanted to make the anti-selfie,” she wrote. “The portrait that doesn’t deflect your gaze, the portrait that actually tries to care, that holds your gaze a little too long.