Year of Publication
Art and Visual Studies
This project is a recontextualization of a historical painting of the Christian iconography symbol of Charity with children. In the painting, I am taking Guido Reni’s original painting of a young maiden breast-feeding orphan children and turning it into the idea of the Mitochondrial Eve taking care of her racially diverse children. The Mitochondrial Eve is the common matrilineal ancestor of all humans and passed down mitochondrial DNA through every female descendent, making her the mother of all humanity in a way. By appropriating this image with black imagery like a full afro, Kente cloth patterns, and African color symbolism, I am recontextualizing the original meaning and adding art and historical references to this scientific theory. Within the mother figure, the skin tone, hair texture and style, and clothing color were changed. The skin tone and hair texture were changed to reference the Mitochondrial Eve originating in Africa. At the same time, the hairstyle was designed to play off of both Christian iconography symbolism to represent a deity but also to reference the 1960s civil-rights movement where the afro gained popularity for its symbolic representation of black pride. But for the clothing, the colors were changed to purple and white to represent their African color symbolism of femininity, healing, and purity. For the children, their skin tone and some facial features were changed to represent ethnic groups like people of East Asian, European, and African descent. While, the background is decorated in Kenté cloth patterns that represent ideas having to do with power, queen mothers, royalty, excellence, strong family, and divine beauty. Overall the work speaks of the pride of the Black origins of the world and uplifts the black figure and mother.
Johnson, Jayda, "Queen Mother / Mitochondrial Eve" (2021). Oswald Research and Creativity Competition. 38.