Display Cases in the Great Hall: Exhibition Archive


28 September – 1 November 2016

Photographs by Nona Faustine

Nona FaustineMitochondria are part of every plant and animal cell on earth, and they generate the energy that keeps those cells going.  DNA within the mitochondria of cells are directly traceable through the matrilineal ancestry, passed from the mother to female and male children alike. However if traced back, all mitochondria come from a single source, our female ancestor in Africa. Since the matrilineal line passes down its genetic material unchanged, it can uniquely be traced back through several generations of women, revealing unbroken links from mothers to daughters.

Nona Faustine’s photograph series, MITOCHONDRIA, focuses on three generations of women in her family. Her mother, her daughter, and herself, and looks at the powerful expressions of these women over time. As she describes it, “Three generations of women living together in one family. My mother, my daughter, and I.”

The images focus on identity as expressed in gesture, and emotional expression in reaction to the gaze of another, or a confrontation with the viewer.
Her photographs assert a strong female presence, showing the familial bond of a matrilineal family, where women care for each other, nurture and raise each other.

Revealing three generations from her close nuclear family, Faustine uses rich clear colors to focus our attention on the inherent emotional realities.  More than simply looking in on the family represented here, she places us in intimate dialogue with three generations of African American women in their home. As Faustine says, her work discusses the “handed down legacy of trauma from one generation to another,” addressing issues of race and investigating our connected understanding among each other as we engage with the past, and decide the next revolutions.

Case One: All photographs digital C-prints, varying image sizes
Case Two: All photographs digital C-prints, varying images sizes

Curated by Lisa A. Banner