Color can be an important factor in how human identity is perceived by self and others. This includes color that is self-chosen, color that is innate, and color that is assigned by others. Three prints in the exhibition Color as Line, explore these facets of color.

 

Division: chosen color

Teams in the National Football League (NFL) choose two main colors for their football franchises. These colors are used to: identify the team, differentiate team players from other teams on the field, and promote sales of team merchandise. Division includes team colors of the Denver Broncos (denim blue and orange) and those of their division rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs (red and yellow), Los Angeles Chargers (sky blue and gold), and the Las Vegas Raiders (black and silver).

Do team colors lose much of their meaning unless they are shown with those of other teams? Does wearing a team jersey change how both players and fans are viewed as people? How do “color” and “pride” become connected ideas? How does wearing team colors enable a sense of belonging? Can wearing team colors be seen as a threat?

 

Consensus: innate color

The US 2020 census is beginning. A primary demographic collected through the census is a person’s race, expressed through a somewhat stereotyped color-based choice (American Indian: red, Asian: yellow, African-American: black, Caucasian: white, Hispanic: brown).

But what is the meaning of these choices in an increasingly multi-racial society? How does an individual view their “color” vs the “color” perceived by others? How does cultural identification influence race-based color choices? How does culture-based clothing and hair style change the perception of racial color?

 

Caution: assigned color

Prior to the beginning of World War II, Jews in Nazi Germany were mandated to wear a yellow Star of David. This served to identify, isolate and stigmatize Jews, and facilitate their rounding-up to send to concentration camps.

To a lesser extent, non-Jews were also sent to the camps. In the camps, these people were assigned color badges to identify why (and to justify why) they were there. Badges were in the shape of the “caution” road sign (an inverted triangle) to indicate “danger”: red: immigrant, blue: political opposition, green: criminal, black: lesbian, pink: gay/bisexual male, purple: religious pacifist.

If these colors were applied to you, how would you be considered “dangerous” today? How do government policies serve to create “others” that then can become targets of online (and real-life) demonization? When would/do you embrace your color/s as part of your own identity?