The Humanae Project Elementary Art Lesson


Nylah Khan @nylah.khan

Grade Level:



Drawing & Painting

As an art educator, I don’t know a single art teacher out there that doesn’t already discuss diversity in skin tones or teach their students to mix different colors to match their own. Self portraits happen annually and it’s almost like the rite of passage in art class to learn to mix your exact skin tone and embrace your uniqueness!

But my question to you is, how can we art educators tweak such lessons to incorporate ANTI RACISM rather than just teach diversity/ multi culture? .

Here’s an amazing artist photographer @angelicadass I fell in love with many years ago when I heard her on TED Talks. She put her personal experience with racism into her art to make a solid statement, The Humanae Project. She traveled to multiple countries to photograph people. She then matched a selection of pixels from their noses to color cards from Pantone skin tone to create a catalog of human color.

By watching her TED Talks with my students, I was able to have a deep discussion about skin color and equality. Angelica’s intent was to create a dialogue about how we see each other and view race, ethnicity and diversity, and that’s exactly what my students and I achieved.

We began our project with a skin color mixing lesson and completed it by drawing our self portraits on top of the skin tone backgrounds. I highly recommend this project. The discussions will be meaningful and important, and you’ll get to check mark all the boxes!

Learn more about this lesson here.

Artists & Inspiration

The Humanae Project