"What are you?" "You're so exotic-looking." "I could tell you had something else mixed in."
Growing up in a Minnesota suburb during the 1980s, as a multi-ethnic child of Lebanese, Norwegian, and Ashkenazi Jewish descent, I did not look like the majority of the community. These reoccurring statements were a constant reminder of that. I didn't want to be "exotic," "something else," or "different"; I just wanted to fit in. I would flip through magazines and lament why I couldn't have ended up with blonde hair and blue eyes like my Grandmother. My otherness always brought up feelings of confusion, pain, and curiosity. I wondered if the roll of the genetic dice had been different, how would that have changed my experiences?
In these self-portraits, I explore my identity through reselecting and recombining my features by referencing a scientific list of recessive and dominant genes and ancestral family photos. Through the application of make-up, wigs, and Photoshop, I alter my appearance each time with a different combination of possible outcomes. In the process of transforming, photographing, and editing this work, more questions about self arose: "Who is this woman?", "How is her life different from mine?" and "What ethnic group does she more identify with?" The connections between appearance, heritage, and identity emerge as an overlying theme for this series.