Art & Ancestry: Repairing the Fracture

Peaceful Science is inviting artists into dialogue with science. This arresting piece is the first image of a series by David Rygiol.

The Genealogical Adam and Eve is written in five movements: Fracture, Ancestor, Human, Mystery, and Crossroads. This image is my response to Fracture.

Image 1/5 – fracture

I grew up in a fractured world – cracked in two. Science and faith were mutually exclusive. My belief in the good news of the Bible and my belief in science could not both be true descriptions of human origins. People on both sides seemed solidly entrenched and happy to live with the rift – there was no common ground. 

Two years ago, that started to change for me. I started to think critically about both beliefs and learn from people who were working to repair the fracture. Our origin story was broken apart by our own divisions, but the pieces of the story are still there, waiting to be repaired by people who are looking for common ground. 

That is the idea behind this image. The crack in the skull traces one of the figures of the book. Tracing the history of DNA, following genetic ancestry, creates a tree that looks like a fracture. Overlooking genealogical ancestry, focusing on genetics instead, the conversation on origins fractured. I grew up in a fractured world, and that fracture grew into me, challenging, unsettling my identity.

Genetic ancestry traces DNA. The DNA in Y chromosomes all converges to Y-Adam (square, left). Mitochondrial DNA all converges to Mt-Eve (circle, right). Tracing the genetic ancestry creates a phylogenetic tree, and the tree looks very much like a fracture.

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