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Steven Cozart
North Carolina

Artist Statement Submitted 2018

Working as both a visual artist and documentarian, I interview family members, friends, and acquaintances about their experiences of race and, specifically, skin tone, in relation to other African Americans. Titled 'Pass/Fail’, the series of drawings and other images that result from these conversations refers to the historical practice, in African American communities, of colorism, specifically comparing a brown paper bag to skin tone in determining admission or exclusion in social circles. In fact, these comparisons can be based upon several factors, including hair, gender roles, and other myths and fallacies prevalent in the community in addition to skin tone. As revealed in interviews with my subjects, today that brown paper bag system, while almost never used literally, is still prevalent, well known, and experienced in the community in its ideals and practices. Ultimately, the purpose of the work is to spark conversations in the community as a path to healing and understanding.

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