Brown Paper Bags
Installation // 4, 39”x30” and 5, 30”x39” Archival Inkjet Prints with text // 2019
"Brown Paper Bags" is a reference to the brown paper bag test often used during reconstruction. Black families interested in joining a black church were commonly required to pass a brown paper bag test, a door test, and/or a comb test. The paper bag test involved placing an arm inside a brown paper bag, and only if you were lighter than the color of the bag would you be invited to join the service. This occurred in neighborhoods of primarily lighter-skinned black people, and emerged in cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, Richmond, and New York.
I use archived family photos overlaid with appropriated phrases from rap lyrics, pieces of family conversation, and personal experience to explore the ways in which the afterlife of slavery manifests in colorism within the black community and how generations of adoption impact identity formation and public perception of individuals within mixed-raced families’. The text often switches between different voices, ethnicities, and perspectives while visually mimicking Time Magazine. At times the text becomes a harsh contrast, and other times it blends into the background disrupting the legibility and perception of the image.