‘We Are Just Humans’: Portrait Project Highlights Ethnic Diversity

Pantone is known for its color matching system, often used in fashion, printing and painting. But Angélica Dass is using the famous swatches for something even more exciting: creating a dialogue around ethnic diversity.

The Madrid-based photographer (pictured above) has been working on her project Humanaesince April 2012, taking portraits of people and matching their skin tones to Pantone hues to show how wide-ranging the human spectrum really is. There are now more than 2,000 photographs on the project’s Tumblr.

“The inspiration for this project comes from my family roots,” Dass tells Mashable. “I am the granddaughter of black and native Brazilians, and the daughter of a black father adopted by a white family. So, I am a mixture of diverse pigments. Humanae is a pursuit for highlighting our true colors, rather than the untrue and clichĂ©d red and yellow, black and white.”

For Dass, the project is like a game of “subverting our codes” — challenging the ideas and labels of social and personal identity.

“What we have learned in social, linguistic or cultural contexts tend to distract us from everyday nuances that I would like to rethink,” she says.

Humanae originally began as Dass’ final work for a master’s degree in art photography. The first images were taken of her family in Brazil, and then she began posting announcements via social media, inviting anyone to be involved. Eventually, she took portraits in galleries, art fairs, favelas, NGOs, the UNESCO headquarters and many other places.

Dass says the project is a work in progress; “infinite and unfinished.”She will stop one day, but she feels it’s important, at least symbolically, to highlight people from each continent. The current 2,000 portraits come from Madrid, Barcelona, Winterthur, Switzerland, Rio de Janeiro, SĂŁo Paulo, Paris and Chicago.

The project has already generated a lot of discussion, including being used in educational textbooks, as a tool for teachers to talk about equality, and by scientists to illustrate research in optical physiology. It also helps children to identify themselves as unique.

“The audience is free to read into it. The ultimate goal is to use the Internet to provoke a discussion on ethnic identity, creating images that lead us to match [ourselves] independently from factors such as nationality, origin, economic status, age or aesthetic standards,” Dass says.

“We cannot fit [ourselves into] codes. We are just humans.”



Introducing Alpha Girls

Mnet America proudly presents its latest original series, Alpha Girls, featuring TOKiMONSTA (DJ/Producer), Mina Kwon (Artist), Soo Joo Park (Fashion Model) and Lanie Alabanza-Barcena (Designer).

Alpha Girls follows four jet-setting, career driven girls at the top of their creative games as they juggle work, relationships and everything in between to grow their brand and themselves personally. Capturing the essence of their hustle and the drama of their everyday lives, Alpha Girls will reveal each of their individual and universal journeys as they work with some of the biggest names in the music and fashion industries.

*Premiering Wednesday, February 26 @8PM PST/EST!

For more info, check out:

What is Ugly? A New Exhibit Showcases the Diversity of the Human Form

A new exhibit from a non-traditional modeling agency explores non-traditional beauty and reminds us “perfect is boring.”

Human zoos and Victorian freak shows provide the inspiration for The Ugly Cards–a pack of playing cards, each featuring a different “character model” captured by photographer Matilda Temperley–which debut September 5 as the star attraction of a new exhibition at London art gallery Cock n Bull.

Dwarves, giants, various kinds of contortionists, transgender and tattooed body modification artists, and more feature in the project–a collaboration between Temperley, sister of fashion designer Alice Temperley, and London-based “character model” agency Ugly.

Each participant was selected from the Ugly roster for both their “originality, expressiveness and strong character–people who are simply comfortable with who they are,” Temperley explains.

The result, which she describes as “a voyeuristic celebration” of the unusual and the extreme, is part of an ongoing exploration of circuses–from ethnographic studies from the 15th century to modern-day freaks shows–which will culminate in a book of photographs to be published next year.



“The idea is to explore today’s human circus–people from all walks of life, especially those comfortable to sit outside social norms,” Temperley adds. “But it’s also as much about the viewer’s reaction to the subjects as the subjects themselves.”

The collaboration is also an opportunity for Ugly to further showcase its own expertise. It currently represents a few thousand models ranging from old to young, from giants to midgets, and including models with bulging eyes, extreme tattoos, and weird piercings.

“We’d worked with Matilda before so already knew her and loved her work,” Ugly Models chairman Marc French explains. “The Ugly Cards were something we just decided to do on our own using our regular stylist and her regular make-up artist.

“Once the first few packs of Ugly Cards caught people’s attention, though, the project took on a momentum of its own. A number of other gallery spaces have already expressed an interest and we’ve also had approaches from potential partners keen to collaborate on other projects.”

Ugly was originally set up in 1969 by two photographers disillusioned by the fashion industry when they took out an ad with the message: “If you have an interesting face contact Ugly.” Since then, it has never needed to re-advertise for models or clients. Nor has it been out of work. “We’ve been asked for it all over the years and I can’t remember an occasion when we’ve not been able to provide what’s been asked for,” French observes. “I once got asked for seven sumo wrestlers. I already had two on the books so it wasn’t hard to find five more.”

Though the agency regularly sees aspiring models, it runs formal casting sessions just once every 18 months–in the run up to publication of the next edition of its Ugly Book compendium detailing the particulars of 1,000 of the top models it represents. The next Ugly Book is due to be hand-delivered to almost 2,000 clients later this month.

Consider Ugly’s track record and you can see French isn’t joking about not needing to advertise. Its models work for top fashion brands including Calvin Klein, Italian Vogue, and Marks and Spencer, and in numerous films and commercials including the current Kevin Bacon Conga ad for mobile network EE.



One of its top bankers, a snaggle-toothed, awkward-looking chap called Dell, has modelled jeans for Levis, Diesel, and CK–an achievement many conventional models would surely envy. Another Ugly model, 65-year-old Pam Lucas, is a weekly fixture in The Guardian‘s weekend fashion pages.

Lucas in particular epitomizes what Ugly is all about, French believes–not because she is ugly (in fact, she is anything but) but because her look is unconventional (older, glamorous, with long grey hair) and she wears it with confidence. “What I always look for is someone confident in their own skin–a person who when they leave a room you remember,” he explains. Not lookalikes. Not followers of someone else’s look or fashion, either, but people who are happy with just the way they are.

“Ugly is just a word,” French adds. “True, some of the people on our books might be described as ugly which gets them work, but many are character-ful. And what’s interesting is how, while there’s always been a demand for different-looking faces, using models who are not perfect but unconventional is a growing trend.”

Recent years have seen a consumer backlash against brand advertisers choosing to peddle unrealistic images of so-called body perfection and the practice of using Photoshop to touch up or even eradicate perceived physical imperfections, he believes. “Goofy geeks and big fat ladies have been incredibly popular now for a number of years.” French adds. Yet he believes demand for his clients is being driven by something more basic. It’s simple really, he says: “Perfect is boring.”

Matilda Temperley – The Human Zoo: The Ugly Cards Exhibition ran from September 5-19 at the Cock n Bull Gallery.


According to New Study, There is No Link Between Violent Crime and Rap Music

Mississippi Senate candidate Chris McDaniel once said that rising gun violence was a function of “hip-hop culture.” Nope. If anything, hip-hop is saving America from crime.

Several years before he decided to challenge Mississippi’s incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran this year, McDaniel hosted a conservative talk radio show. Mother Jones, which has a pretty solid track record of uncovering embarrassing audio filesrecently, came across (via Dark Horse Mississippi) a teaser promo from McDaniel’s radio show, which he hosted from 2004 to 2007. In it, McDaniel made the claim.

“Let’s be very outspoken about what we’re talking about here. The reason Canada is breaking out in brand-new gun violence has nothing to do with the United States and guns. It has everything to do with a culture that is morally bankrupt. It’s called hip-hop.”

“Before you get carried away,” he continues, “this has nothing to do with race. There are just as many hip-hoppin’ white kids and Asian kids as there are black kids.” The hip-hop culture, he said, can’t get control of itself.

Well, let’s consider this. First of all, we’ll accept for the sake of argument that McDaniel, who was last in the news when his links to pro-Confederate groups came to light, doesn’t consider this is a racial issue. We will also set aside the lack of any “redeeming qualities” of the genre; that’s subjective. And we’ll even ignore the claim that Canada is breaking out in new gun violence. In 2005, the country saw a sudden increase in gun-related homicides — that brought the national total to 223. The next year, it was back down to 190.

Let’s just focus on McDaniel’s argument that hip-hop causes crime. If anything — if the data offers us any indication at all — the opposite is true. As the popularity of rap music increased, crime in the United States fell, particularly at the point in which violent, gangsta rap took hold. And if we use McDaniel’s criterion — I think there’s a relationship, therefore there is — we’ve proven him wrong.

To demonstrate this, we pulled crime data compiled by the FBI as a function of population to track how crime has evolved in this country. We focused on the total number of crimes and the amount of violent crime. Then, to gauge the popularity of hip-hop, we turned to the Whitburn Project, an ongoing, underground tabulation of the popularity of singles dating back to 1890. (You can read about it here.) The Whitburn Project indicates the top charting tracks for each year and, for an extensive period, categorizes them by genre. So we took the period of 1980 to 2005 — from just after rap’s birth to the point at which Whitburn’s genre data is less complete — and assessed how much of popular music was dominated by rap. Giving us these charts.


It’s worth noting that the “hip-hop culture” McDaniel decries wasn’t based on the Fresh Prince / Run DMC rap of the 1980s. He means the heavy stuff, which appeared at the end of that decade. In fact, violent crime peaked in 1991 — the same year as NWA’s seminal Efil 4 Zaggin* was released. So, can we thank Mssrs. Ice Cube, Dre, Eazy, and Ren for saving America? Well, no. Crime and music, nearly anyone will tell you, are not linked. “Hip-hop culture,” such as it is, had nothing to do with the amount of crime in U.S., or Canada, at least if actual hip-hop music is any indicator.

You know what kind of music does correlate with America’s increase in crime? Rock music. But that has nothing to do with race. There’s just as many black and Asian kids that were into rock as white kids. Don’t blame them for rock culture.

* Not its actual name.

[via The Wire]


“You’re Really Pretty For a Dark Skin Girl” and Other Racial Microaggressions You Hear On A Daily Basis

Photographer Kiyun asked her friends at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus to “write down an instance of racial microaggression they have faced.”


The term “microaggression” was used by Columbia professor Derald Sue to refer to “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.” Sue borrowed the term from psychiatrist Dr. Chester Pierce who coined the term in the ’70s.

While the term “microaggressions” has been a part of academic discourse for some time (“micro-inequities” was coined by an MIT Ph.D. in 1973), it became better known through the popular Tumblr Microaggressions.

The Tumblr is a project that aims to highlight the daily microaggressions people encounter through user submitted stories.

“This blog seeks to provide a visual representation of the everyday of “microaggressions.” Each event, observation and experience posted is not necessarily particularly striking in and of themselves. Often, they are never meant to hurt – acts done with little conscious awareness of their meanings and effects. Instead, their slow accumulation during a childhood and over a lifetime is in part what defines a marginalized experience, making explanation and communication with someone who does not share this identity particularly difficult. Social others are microaggressed hourly, daily, weekly, monthly.

This project is NOT about showing how ignorant people can be in order to simply dismiss their ignorance. Instead, it is about showing how these comments create and enforce uncomfortable, violent and unsafe realities onto peoples’ workplace, home, school, childhood/adolescence/adulthood, and public transportation/space environments.”

Here are a few of our favorites:




See the full list at Buzzfeed.



Here’s What Happened When One Queer Woman Dressed More Feminine For Her Job

All it took was one versatile haircut, and voila. The seeds for “Warpaint,” a nuanced art project addressing the subtleties of gender expression, were planted.

The photography series is the brainchild of artist Coco Layne, who, after buzzing the sides of her head, realized that simple changes in the way she styled her hair could impact her own gender representation. She thought particularly about her experiences applying for jobs last year, and how presenting herself as a “more conservative, feminine candidate” helped her land a position at a women’s retailer.

“I’m a relatively feminine person most days, but I had both sides of my head shaved at the time,” Layne recounted in an email interview with The Huffington Post. “Without makeup, I looked more masculine than I did before, and the hair I had wasn’t long enough to part down the middle. I ended up wearing a black bob wig and a lot of make up to the interview.”

She got the job and eventually revealed her real hair to her managers; they were comfortable with Layne’s platinum blonde hair split down the middle (“shaved sides hidden, of course”). The job was temporary, but the memory of the way she toyed with gender presentation during that time inspired “Warpaint,” a sequential photo series that explores the ways in which small changes in hair styles, makeup and clothing interacted with identity, perception and queer visibility.

“I identify as a femme queer woman. On any given day, I fall somewhere on the third or fourth row [of the "Warpaint" collage],” she explained. “Sometimes I’ll feel like being super femme and I’ll wear a lot of eye make up and lipstick while on other days I won’t do anything besides fill my brows in. I love makeup because it allows me to play with my presentation.”

read the full article on Huffington Post.

What NOT to Wear This Halloween

Halloween is just a few days away and we’re already seeing an influx of culturally insensitive costumes. In late October of 2011, a student organization at Ohio University named “Students Teaching Against Racism in Society”[8] (STARS) launched a campaign to raise awareness about racially insensitive Halloween costumes. A few years strong, the campaign is still alive and as necessary as ever, sadly.

as seen on KnowYourMeme


Hello Kitty and The Simpson’s Are Going 1/2 on a Baby

Iconic Japanese Hello Kitty fashion and accessory manufacturer, Sanrio has teamed up with American animated sitcom, The Simpsons for a limited edition product line. In celebration of both franchise’s landmark years in 2014, with Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary and The Simpson’s 25th season, the collaboration product line “will target collectors with limited-edition collectibles, offering something for all fans.”

“Hello Kitty and The Simpsons have impacted pop culture around the world,” says Janet Hsu, President and COO of Sanrio, Inc. “Our collaboration comes at a perfect time as we celebrate major milestones for both brands. The exclusive product offering will feature a fun and unexpected take on The Simpsons’ transformation within Hello Kitty’s supercute world.”

“Fusing Hello Kitty’s iconic design sensibility with each Simpsons character, this unique collaboration will delight fans of Hello Kitty, The Simpsons and everyone in between,” said Roz Nowicki, executive vice president of global sales and retail at Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products.

The unique collaboration is expected to release during the ”back-to-school” season in 2014. Link

as seen on EverythingHapa

[Countdown to 2042] Eric Nakamura of Giant Robot

Check out the latest installment of Countdown to 2042 with Giant Robot founder and owner Eric Nakamura. He is also a passionate advocate for bringing Asian voices and art to the mainstream through the Giant Robot brand. See what Nakamura has to say about the current state of diversity in Hollywood and his predictions for the year 2042, when the United States will no longer have any ethnic or racial majority.

On Giant Robot…

From movie stars, musicians, and skate-boarders to toys, technology, and history, Giant Robot magazine covers cool aspects of Asian and Asian-American pop culture. Paving the way for less knowledgeable media outlets, Giant Robot put the spotlight on Chow Yun Fat, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li years before they were in mainstream America’s vocabulary.

But Giant Robot is much more than idol worship. GR’s spirited reviews of canned coffee drinks, instant ramen packs, Japanese candies, Asian frozen desserts, and mar-inated bugs have spawned numerous copycat articles in other publications.

GR’s historical pieces on the Yellow Power Movement, footbinding, Asian-American gangsters, and other savory topics have been cited by both academics and journalists. Other regular features include travel journals, art and design studies, and sex.

If you liked this video and want to see more like it, check out our YouTube page, where we have other great Countdown to 2042 videos withCasey Veggies and Adrian Younge

White Women, Black Hairstyles: A Candid Discussion on Race and Corporate Culture

Sometimes humor really is the best way to approach a touchy subject. Photographer Endia Beal chose to use art and humor to open a dialogue among people of different gender, race, and generations about the ways in which we express ourselves, specifically in a corporate environment.

“It almost sounds like the opening line to a joke: A young black woman takes a bunch of middle-aged white women who she doesn’t know in Woodstock, N.Y., to a black salon, gives them a new “black” hairdo, and then takes their portrait.

Although photographer Endia Beal laughs freely while discussing “Can I Touch It?” the point of the series that she worked on this summer during a five-week residency with the Center for Photography at Woodstock isn’t about getting laughs.

The rules were simple: After getting their new styles, the women had to agree to be photographed in a traditional corporate portrait, even if they weren’t happy with the result…”

Read more about Beal’s project here.