Chaparral HS Art Project Explores Diverse Skin Tones

Art students match skin tonesCHS painting class studies skin tonesA fairly simple visual art lesson about matching colors turned into a profound display of diversity.


It turns out that our vastly diverse skin tones are not so diverse after all.


At Chaparral High School, art teacher Angela Caddell directed her painting students to match their own skin tones by mixing paint.


The lesson made her remember a conference presentation featuring the work of Angelica Dass, a photographer and creator of a piece called Humanae.



It is accessible at the following: 


Chaparral art students used shades of black, white, red and yellow to match the tone of their own skin.


Each student made an individual squares, which students named. The patchwork of squares are posted outside the art class.

Chaparral art classes seeking viewer response

Instead of showing vast differences, the separate squares reveal neutral tones more similar than different.


“For me, this is about how much the same we are in different tones and colors,” said sophomore Juliem Sopena. She named her tone “Kit Kat.”

Photography project inspires CHS project

“I was excited. I wanted to see how people are. It describes each one of us.”


Senior Christian Torres called his skin tone square “kitchen,” because he likes to cook.


“It’s interesting. I didn’t know about my color and tone,” he said, explaining that he used orange, yellow, white and brown to get the mix right.


Caddell said her students were clearly excited to dive into skin tone and to see the visual result, but also said they have a hard time explaining the display and its power.


The classes are gathering viewer feedback and students are writing their own reflections, which will all be part of a display at the annual Killeen ISD visual art show after the holiday break.


“Colors that categorize us are red, yellow, white and black, but we are neutrals,” said Caddell, who found her tone appeared to be a pale pink.


Looking at her own arm, she speculated how doing the project again could reveal a different shade based on other parts of the body.


“It started with matching skin tone, but it became something more,” she said. “A lot of students said we are more alike than different. It’s sort of an FYI. There is so much hatred (in the world) and there is so much diversity in our community.


“It went from matching a skin tone to making a point,” the teacher said. “Don’t put me in a category.”


Photographer Angelica Dass discusses her work at the following: