Julie Comnick Art - Untitled (zebra genealogy tree

Untitled (zebra genealogy tree) | 2007 | charcoal on paper, eleven drawings | 15” x 18” each, installation dimensions variable

According To Their Kind examines the mythical subtext of natural selection and contemporary practices of selective breeding. The drawings in this collection depict passages from Noah’s Ark, animals paired for breeding, quotations from reproductive medicine, boats (arks), and human embryonic stages. The juxtaposition of these images asks the viewer to consider the impact humans have on evolution, and raises questions about current practices that will determine the demographics of future generations.

Evolution has eliminated many of nature’s genetic flaws, and science has contributed to the natural process by identifying hereditary disorders and combating disease. At times, humans have deliberately intervened in natural selection to weed out socially undesirable characteristics and promote preferred traits. In response to eugenics, people have formed moral objections to genetic selection.

Selective breeding has subtly reemerged as a contentious issue in contemporary culture. While animals are bred in captivity to revitalize endangered populations, humans are able to pre-select the gender and genetic traits of their children. The selection criteria for sperm and egg donors include non-genetic information such as class, education, and occupation, and sex selection carries eugenic implications. Selective breeding weighs preference against genetics, with deliberate choices masked as natural selection.

The objective of According To Their Kind is to illuminate the contradictions inherent in genetic selection, and to bring attention to issues surrounding selective breeding, inviting viewers to reach their own conclusions.

According To Their Kind reviewed in the Washington Post: “Man vs. Beast: An Intimate Look,”  | PDF  And, The Story Behind the Work | PDF