Morgan DeLuna


From the time that I was very young, I have been asked "What are you?" in reference to my mixed Lebanese, Norwegian, and Jewish heritage. Growing up in Minnesota I did not look like the majority of my community and this question always brought up feelings of confusion, curiosity, and pain. Over time a yearning to know how my life might have been if the genetic dice had been rolled differently grew. I needed to know how I would feel and respond to seeing another possible version of me.
For these self-portraits, I approach the transformative process of recombining and reselecting features by referencing a collection of my ancestral family photos (for various physicalities, hair textures, and skin tones), my ethnic heritage, and a scientific list of recessive and dominant genes. Through the application of make-up, wigs, and Photoshop I alter my appearance again and again, each time with a different combination of possible outcomes. The process of reimagining my appearance brought with it an altered sense of identity and mindset. During the transforming, photographing, and editing of this work more questions about self arose: “Who is this woman?”, “How is her life different from mine?”, and “What ethnic group does she identify with?”
The connection between appearance, heritage, and identity emerged as an overlying theme for this series.

Phenotype 1

Phenotype 4

Phenotype 11

Phenotype 3

Phenotype 2

Phenotype 10

Phenotype 17

Phenotype 22

Phenotype 5

Phenotype 9

Phenotype 15

Phenotype 8

Phenotype 13

Phenotype 21

Phenotype 14

Phenotype 6

Phenotype 12

Phenotype 16

Phenotype 18

Phenotype 19

Phenotype 7

Phenotype 20

Phenotype 23

Ancestral photos used for reference.

Using Format