‘Paper Bag Test’ Starts Conversation About Race, Identity at ArtPrize [Video]
The entry, located at Grand Rapids City Hall, consists of paper bags in colors that reference skin tones. Each bag is given a label and visitors are encouraged to write their reactions and comments on the bag.
In culture, the paper bag test refers to the segregation of African Americans into two groups according to their skin color. Those with skin lighter than a paper bag and those with skin darker than a paper bag.
The entry has had many comments, drawings and stories written on it. So many people have participated that the bags have been replaced with new ones to give more people a chance to share their thoughts.
Prouty has shown "Paper Bag Test" in other cities and has used at least 30 different labels. The ArtPrize installation does not have room for 30 bags, but some of the bags being replaced are being given new labels.
Prouty talks about the words and labels used to reference skin tone, who gives them, how they define us and more.