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Steven Cozart
North Carolina

Artist Statement Submitted 2020

Working as both a visual artist and documentarian, I have been interviewing family members, friends, and acquaintances of varying ages about their experiences of race and skin tone in relation to other African Americans. Titled Pass/Fail, the series of drawings, paintings and other mixed media images that result from these conversations refers to the historical practice in African American communities, of colorism (prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark or light skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group), and texturism (the idea that certain types of natural hair patterns are more desirable or beautiful than others). Comparisons may include a brown paper bag to skin tone, or using a pencil stuck into hair to determine acceptable hair texture. These wildly inaccurate "tests" may also determine masculinity and/or femininity in the community. As such, these 'codecs' (combined with statements and portraiture) have become part of the work.

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