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An Ancestral Dinner Party.....Latin American Journeys and Genographic Inspired Art in Miami

Posted By Xavier Cortada, Monday, October 26, 2009
Posted on December 11, 2008

David Comas in Miami.JPGPhotograph by Cristian Lazzari
Dr. David Comas at the Miami Museum of Science.

Western European Principal Investigator David Comas and members of the Genographic team were at the Miami Museum of Science today speaking with participants about the journeys that led them from Latin American to their current homes in and around Miami. In a city famous for its rich culture, Genographic Participants representing Spain and 17 Latin American countries -- Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela -- chatted and swapped stories with each other that helped inspire a new art installation titled 'An Ancestral Dinner Party.'

After using the recently launched Genographic Spanish language kit, Dr. Juanita de la Cruz, describes her experience: "My move from Mexico to Miami in 1953 was life changing for me and the Genographic Project has helped me understand how my own journey fits in with the migration of my ancient ancestors in that it adds another dimension - much more on a global scale - on how I can think about my own heritage."

Group Hug.jpgPhotograph by Glynnis Breen
Participants from various Latin American countries included in Cortada's installation, reunite after their ancestor's separated to populate the globe thousands of years ago.  

"This is a great opportunity for the Latino community, and I am honored to participate. Many of us coming to this country have inevitably suffered a certain loss of culture. It would be a shame to lose our migratory history as well. The Genographic Project re-acquaints us with our ancient past to show that we are, more or less, all related and connected to one another," said Genographic Project participant Jimmy Gamonet de los Heros, from Peru.

"Tracing lineage can sometimes feel like finding a needle in a haystack. This adds a new dimension because now I know that at least that needle exists," said Genographic Participant Carl Juste whose traces his ancestors back to Cuba and Haiti.  

Juanita.JPGPhotograph by Cristian Lazzari
avid Comas and Dr. Juanita de la Cruz discuss her Genographic results and the Genographic project.

Organized around the 1933 Pan American Airways globe that now has its home in the lobby of the Museum of Science, artist Xavier Cortada created an installation inspired by Cruz's and 16 other participants' diverse results. Titled  'Ancestral Dinner Party,' Cortada explained how the installation integrates science with art to "depict when and where the ancient ancestors of present-day Latin Americans last dined together along their 60,000-year journey out of Africa to populate our planet." 

Ancestral dinner plate.JPGPhotograph by Cristian Lazzari
The art installation, "Ancestral Dinner Party," by Miami-based artist Xavier Cortada.

After last week's Art Basel in Miami, a cultural event celebrating the Americas with art, Miami is a natural home for the 'Ancestral Dinner Party' to be cultivated and featured.  Gillian Thomas, President of the Museum, invites everyone to check the exhibit out and encourages you to sample a little bit of what Miami and the ongoing legacy of its people have to offer.  

Our reception in Miami has been so warm, we think we will take her up on that offer.......

Miami 060.jpgPhotograph by Glynnis Breen
Local Miami resident views the Genographic exhibit at the Miami Museum of Science.  

Visit the recently launched Genographic Spanish Website and order a Spanish Language Kit.

Read the Press Release to be filled in on more details.

Tags:  Ancestral Dinner Party  DNA  genetic  Genographic Project  Haplogroup  Hispanic  Latino  Markers  Miami Science Museum  National Geographic 

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FIU College of Architecture + The Arts

Xavier Cortada
Florida International University
College of Architecture + The Arts
420 Lincoln Road, Suite 430
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Xavier Cortada's participatory art practice is based at Florida International University.


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