"Paper or Plastic?"

Some African-Americans once used a paper bag to determine attractiveness and worth. The practice involved taking a plain brown paper bag and holding it up to their faces. If the bag was darker, that was a good thing. If the bag was lighter, well, that wasn't so good. In his exhibit "Paper or Plastic?" artist Nathaniel Donnett explores the effects being "color struck" had on individuals, families and the black community as a whole. Skin color, hair texture and the approximation of "white" features determined, for many, an ideal not only of beauty but of worth. It segregated the black community within itself, allowing some privileges, denying others self-esteem. There's an opening reception on August 21. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Through September 26. Lawndale Art Center, 4912 Main. For information, call 713-528-5858 or visit www.lawndaleartcenter.org. Free.
Mondays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturdays, 12-5 p.m. Starts: Aug. 24. Continues through Sept. 26, 2009

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Olivia Flores Alvarez