Check Out Humanae, A Diversity Portrait ProjectElizabeth Entenman

Chances are, you’re familiar with the Pantone color system. You might work in design, have a coffee mug that shows off your favorite swatch or have seen that Pantone’s color of the year is Radiant Orchid (striking!). Photographer Angélica Dass has given us another reason to love the print color matching system: she’s using Pantone to explore and celebrate diversity with a portrait project called Humanae.

Dass photographs people of all races and backgrounds against the Pantone swatches that perfectly match their skin. The project began in 2012 as work for her master’s degree in art photography. Since then, the project has taken on a life of its own. Dass has photographed more than 2,000 people from around the world, and she isn’t stopping any time soon.

Picture of Humanae Pantone Swatch 1

Humanae shows just how diverse we really are. Skin color is not simply black or white or brown, and her photographs push the boundaries of how we define race, both individually and as a society. Dass writes on her tumblr, “Humanae [is] a pursuit for highlighting our subtle-continuous of our tones that make more equality than difference… our true colors, rather than the untrue Red and Yellow, Black and White.”

“The audience is free to read into it.”

Picture of Humanae Pantone Swatch 2

She emphasizes that Humanae is a “work in progress.” Her goal is to photograph people from every continent, and already has quite a few under her belt. Everyone who participates has approached her, and with the attention the project is gaining, I’m sure there is no shortage of subjects. “The only limit would be reached by completing all of the world’s population,” Dass writes. Someone who truly believes we are all unique. Cheers to that.

Browsing through the portraits, I’d love to know what my Pantone hue is, and I’d be honored to be featured in Dass’s gallery. Though I guess in a way, her point is, it doesn’t matter what my swatch is. I’m not an alphanumeric code; I’m a person, and the number that describes my skin code is just another one of my features, not my definition.

Picture of Humanae Pantone Swatch 3

“The spectator is invited to press the share button in his brain,” she writes. I couldn’t help myself. Check out Humanae! It’s simple, beautiful and real.

Images via Angélica Dass

  • Erin K Morris

    I love this! As a design nerd, I love being able to use Pantone Coloring System in a very real way. Humans are not limited to a short list of vague colors, there is definitely a rainbow of different races and they all need to be celebrated.

    I really believe that people of my generation have a very benevolent perspective on diversity and we consistently look to embrace it.

    My senior journalism class researched this embrace of diversity in younger generation through some very mainstream ways. For instance, the coming out of Michael Sam shows our welcoming of people through all walks of life.

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