The labels touch upon a range of experiences, for example: Nude, Bamboo, Brown Sugar, Fair, Redneck, Redskin, Bandaid, Bean, Yellow, White, Ebony, Silk, Spice. They are derived from foundation colors, slurs, foods, jokes, and historical contexts. The public is invited to write reactions, comments and stories on the bags. They are also invited to post photographs under #paperbagtest. The final grouping of colors and labels will be selected and sequenced for the gallery after getting to know the site and doing some research about local race-related language and issues.
This piece attempts to develop a complex dialog about skin tone and stereotypes in contrast with what is often a shallow and reductive conversation in our culture. It also offers the possibility of reclaiming and redefining the language we use to construct the categories of race. My goals with this piece are to engage people in thinking about how we use words to describe, imply and evaluate race, to ask them to reflect on how they see their own skin tone and the skin tones of others, and to present race as a social, as opposed to scientific, construction.