Originally posted by
Otto von Bismarck on October 15, 2017 19:10
I discovered by painting my partner's skin color that getting the right shade of someone's skin is actually a very hard thing to do, especially when you only have the basic colors available to mix together with. The challenges were the things that could've been assumed from the beginning would've been difficult, i.e. mixing a bunch of colors that don't perfectly fit anyone's skin to be able to find just the right shade to paint someone as. It was obviously an exercise to show all of us that everybody, and especially in regards to our skin, are unique and that all of us are different from one another. Less obviously, I think, was the underlying message conveyed to us that our own skin color is also very unique and hard to make.
That last sentence also seems to be an obvious statement, but think closer about what I just said. Most people consider themselves to be normal, and usually grow up surrounded by people looking like them, either with family members or in communities where most of your neighbors and friends are the same race, and the general skin tone, as you. Thus by not only painting another's skin, but also watching someone struggle to find your proper shade, you gain a new respect for the fact that you yourself aren't simply one more person in a conforming greater group, but rather your own person and unique all to yourself, which I think was the point of the exercise.
I thought that the exercise was very interesting and effective in driving the point home that everyone's skin is different and all unique, and I think it was also a pretty nice interactive way for people who might not know each other that well to bond and talk to the person they were assigned to paint and maybe to get to know them a little better.
As for the larger question about how painting/portraying skin color affects and identifies us, I think that the way that our outer layers are shown have a very large effect on how all of us as a group are perceived. Asians, Africans, Europeans, etc, are all usually lumped into one category of color like yellow, white, black, brown, or whatever. But these labels fail to capture everybody's existence, not even coming close to appreciating the color diversity that everyone wears on themselves every day. By being able to label ourselves with general colors, I think that it also makes it easier for us to see ourselves as somehow different from other people, and that's never a good thing. If by softening the color borders around different ethnic and racial groups can allow us to interact more peacefully and respectfully, then I'll be glad to spent a few more classes painting each other, and maybe the whole rest of the world could benefit from that as well.
I think your analysis of what seeing others struggle to get your complexion meant was very interesting. I think determining that as the point of the activity was a very unique take, which I appreciated. I think it is very easy to, and many of us consciously group ourselves and associate only with one race, however this could be seen as a reminder that as you (Otto von Bismarck) said, we are each a unique person, whose complexion and background cannot be recreated. Instead of pigeonholing ourselves into one bottle, we should acknowledge that it takes a wide breadth of colors and experiences to make us, and only by placing ourselves in that environment can we truly grow.