Julia P. Herzberg is an art historian, independent curator, and Fulbright Senior Specialist living in New York. She completed her PhD in art history at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, in 1998, with a dissertation on Cuban artist Ana Mendieta. She is a specialist of Latin American artists living in the United States, and has curated more than twenty-five exhibitions. Herzberg was a co-curator of The Decade Show (1990), held in New York at the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art, the New Museum, and the Studio Museum in Harlem, and she was the curator of the official U.S. representation for the III Bienal Internacional de Pintura in Cuenca, Ecuador (1991). In addition to serving as a consulting curator at El Museo del Barrio in New York (1996–2001), she was a consulting curator for the 2003, 2006, and 2009 Bienales de La Habana, and she is a contributing and consulting editor for Arte al día Internacional. Herzberg has taught, lectured, and published extensively in the United States and abroad and received two J. William Fulbright Scholarship Board awards: one at the Pontificia Universidad Católica (2007) and another at the Universidad Diego Portales (2013), both in Santiago, Chile, and also served as visiting professor at the Instituto de Arte, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Chile (2016).
Nela Ochoa (b. 1953) is a multidisciplinary Venezuelan artist. She first studied dance in Paris in 1981, before returning to Caracas in 1985, where she worked in video, choreography, and performance art. In the 1990s, she became interested in DNA and began to study genes, resulting in sculptures representing genetic codes: one made of bra-strap hooks referenced the genetic sequence of breast cancer; another made of plastic press-on nails referenced the genetic sequence of keratin 14, a substance discovered in Chinese workers who were exposed to mustard gas. Later, she addressed the genetic sequencing of cacao beans, a product of Venezuela.
This exhibition took place in 2009 at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University. This essay addresses a significant body of work by Ochoa that incorporates the DNA sequence as it is employed to create the imagery in two- and three-dimensional work.