Interconnectedness: A DNA Project

Deoxyribonucleic acid. Try saying that three times fast...or just say DNA.

Although this is William Rasdell’s first time implementing DNA results into his artwork, this is not his first piece of work to express distinguishable cultural and ethical characteristics. Not only has Bill discovered and articulated peoples’ heritages, but he has also traveled the world to do so. For his last project involving the diaspora of native Africans with Jewish backgrounds, he ventured to Ghana, Nigeria, Israel, and Zimbabwe. Both this physical and artistic adventure and his desire to “go beyond local, regional, or even national perspectives...and go directly to the sources” inspired Bill’s concept of discovering one’s DNA to connect with their heritage.

First, Rasdell joined websites that release one’s genealogy records, such as and 23andMe, though he doesn't always trust the results completely. Instead, he approaches his results with more of an artistic lens -- one that allows him to transform them into something more. Through these websites and Facebook, he began contacting random people to see if they would like to participate in his project. Currently, he has thirty-six participants, one of whom is a distant cousin that he did not know about prior to this project.

Rasdell has found that the information he has gathered often discredits stereotypes. For example, his wife is 48% Nigerian and his niece is 52%, but the average Nigerian is only 68% Nigerian as exposed in their DNA. This surprising fact shows that one cannot assume others’ physical heritage and cultural characteristics without careful consideration.

Rasdell’s passion for heritage and culture has helped him create a magnificent series that artistically demonstrate people’s’ own background and physical deoxyribonucleic acid  -- or DNA, however you wish to refer to the minuscule double helixes in your cells’ nuclei.

INTERCONNECTEDNESS: A DNA Project hangs from September 1 to September 29, so come and enjoy his new project beginning this First Friday! Or stop by Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm.