Let’s be real. At some point in our elementary school career we’re gassed up by our teachers and parents to think that we’re the greatest artist since Picasso. Even if you absolutely suck at coloring, and none of your masterpieces ever made it to the fridge, almost everyone can relate to the stress-filled moment of deciding which Crayola crayon to use for the face on that drawing of you as a basketball playing, ninja-Power Ranger. That might have been a easy decision for some, but the options were limited if you were born with a little bit more melanin or spent a number of hours bathing in the sun on summer vacations. So here’s the question: What color do you use if you aren’t “Flesh” or “Brown”?
Humanae is a Tumblr blog that doesn’t quite answer our childhood question, but instead shows us that there are a lot more color choices than our crayon box could hold. Based on the Pantone Inc. color scheme, the Humanae project highlights the colors of real subjects juxtaposed the color codes in the Pantone palate. The subjects, all volunteers, are photographed and placed behind a dyed backdrop that has been extracted solely from the 11×11 pixels of the volunteers’ profile.
Photographer Angélica Dass, creator of the Humanae project speaks a little bit on her experience with the project and the concept of race and skin tone.
Mass Appeal: You’ve photographed over 2,000 people from places like Barcelona, Paris, Madrid and Chicago. What did you learn about the volunteers from their reactions to this project?
Angélica Dass: I’ve learned that I’m not alone. People need to talk about equality, identity, empathy. People want to discuss these concepts, and when you look at the pictures, however obvious it may seem, you see that we are unique and yet part of a whole.
MA: How did the Humanae project help you develop as a photographer?
AD: It helped me to discover myself as a photographer. I start thinking or feeling in my own sphere. I like to be a translator or amplifier of the thoughts, feelings, messages and stories of the people I shoot. The Humanae project enriches widely my work and experience.
MA: How has the feedback on the project been ?
AD: The Humanae project was a very personal project and it has mutated into a global educational, social, and even scientific form of expression for different persons in a way that has become out of my control.
MA: Why did you decide to use the Pantone scale ?
AD: Pantone for me is a neutral scale, where a color has no more importance than another, that is industrial, closely associated with something practical, and repetitive. It’s a very identifiable scale for one part of society that coexists with the world of design, but is well understood easily by anyone. It is a manner to look objectively, “human object,” seeking to make clear this unique “universality,”
MA: How does this project challenge the concept of race ?
AD: The concept of race is completely challenged or even reviled by science nowadays, but maybe only in the biological-anthropological side of the cliché. The sociological aspects of the race concept, its historical or political use and consequences are necessary to be discussed every day in a lot of places, contexts and for many people. Humanae breaks the ice and starts with the first word of a conversation about real identity, solidarity, humanity.
MA: What do you see yourself working on in the future ?
AD: I’ll continue looking at myself to talk about/to others, and I hope that their voices will be heared louder than mine in the end.
Check out more on the ongoing Humanae project and Angélica Dass on her website.