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This project was successfully funded on January 12, 2013

Contemporay Casta Portraits

by Delilah Montoya


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This visual investigation requires material funding and research time. The premise of the work is the investigation of the cultural and biological forms of Hybridity. Looking at this concept as a signifier of colonialism, the artwork will echo the aesthetic and cultural markers formulated by 18th c Mexican casta paintings onto portraits of individuals from multi-cultural communities. The idea is to witness the development of colonialism as a substructure to our contemporary environments through the practice of portraiture. Like Mexican casta painting (casta is the Spanish word for caste), the portraits will denote ethnicity/race through the subject's domicile, biology, and consumption.  The intention is to use contemporary tools such as DNA testing and digital media in constructing the portraits to determine the biological connection to one's learned community. Currently I am researching DNA testing, casta painting traditions, genetically modified foods as social markers, and Dutch still-life paintings.   I plan to start create photographic studies of the selected families as well as DNA test the subjects blood lines to determine family migration patterns and racial mixes.  The money raised will be used to conduct DNA testing on 10 families, and any additional funds raised will go towards other research and materials expenses.

In addition, Contemporary Casta Portraits is intended to be exhibited in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe because the work portrays the New Mexican.  A number of public galleries are interested in showing the completed body of work  for the 2014 exhibition schedule.  Among the interested galleries are the Santa Fe Community Gallery, Andrew Smith Gallery, Broadway Cultural Center and 516 Arts.  The intention of creating the work is to exhibit "Contemporary Casta Portrats" throughout New Mexico as well as the Southwest region.Thank you for your interest in my project.

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