Image: Violet Colored Girl from the Colored People Series
(Portland, Oregon, 1953 - )

Violet Colored Girl from the Colored People Series , 1990

Three toned gelatin silver prints and vinyl letters
17 in. x 49 5/8 in. x 1 1/2 in. (43.18 cm x 126.05 cm x 3.81 cm)
Knight Purchase Fund for Photographic Media
In this series, Weems examines prejudice in white society and African-American communities.  “Colored” is one of the negative terms white people have used to belittle blacks while refusing to recognize them as individuals; “golden yella,” “red bone,” and “violet” are terms African-Americans have used to describe other blacks.  By “coloring” the photographs of her young subjects with brightly hued tones, Weems emphasizes how inadequately “black” describes a multi-colored and diverse race.  At the same time, she addresses the situation in African-American society where light-skinned blacks are often perceived as receiving preferential treatment over those with darker, or more “African” skin.
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Online Collection paid for with a grant from
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