DNA tests tell FAU students where they can find origins
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
The premise of the art class seemed simple enough. Students would create a body of work reflecting their own ethnic identities and perceptions of race.
But there was a twist. Florida Atlantic University instructor Peter Fine suspected many of the graduate students would be unaware of their full genetic makeup.
So Fine, an associate art professor, asked the students in his Visualizing Race class to take DNA tests.
Before opening their results last week, most of the 13 students identified themselves as white Europeans. One considered himself mostly African with some European and Native American genes mixed in.
The DNA results surprised almost everyone. Only one student was completely European. The rest discovered they had some mixture of European, Native American, Sub-Saharan African and Asian ancestry.
Britt Feingold, 25, of Boca Raton, learned she was 8 percent Asian. She said she's been told her facial features resemble that of Asians, but she never took it seriously. Her mother's ancestors came from Scandinavian countries, while everyone on her father's side was Eastern European.
"This is odd," she said. "I have no idea where this 8 percent came from."
So now that they know their full heritage, these student painters, ceramicists, animators and other artists will spend the next few weeks producing some work about race. One student plans to paint a face that reflects all of the ethnicities in her background. Another plans to use gravy boats to visualize the vessels that transported slaves into the United States.
Most still are deciding what to do.
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