An Artist Finds True Skin Colors in a Diverse Palette

To create a color wheel of humanity, Angélica Dass paired 4,000 portraits with Pantone cards.

When people saw the brown skin of Brazilian Angélica Dass and the pink tones of her Spanish husband, they would theorize about the color of their future children. For clues, Dass looked at her family, whose European and African skin tones range from “pancakes to peanuts to chocolate.”

In 2012 she photographed herself, her then husband, and their families to show this medley. She’d match a strip of pixels from their noses to a color card from Pantone, the longtime authority on color standards. So began “Humanae,” a project that has collected 4,000 portraits and myriad human colors in 18 countries.

Skin color still determines treatment in the 21st century. “This dehumanization of human beings is happening now,” Dass says. “On the border of Libya and in our everyday lives, when someone cannot have the same freedom as you, it’s because you’re treating them as if they are a little less human.”

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