“Those colors hurt my eyes,” remarked my friend Sarah as she observed the juxtaposition of Prussian blue and vermilion-colored materials in one of my artworks. The work’s content focuses on the trauma of harassment, threats, assault, discrimination, and defamation. Sarah’s words had stopped me in my tracks: the colors were inflicting pain, just as the piece conveyed the experience of trauma’s pain. My attention was captured by the implication that colors could literally become active as a physical body. This notion coupled with the profound trauma of events experienced globally in 2020 provided the impetus and sense of urgency to consider color and trauma more deeply.

My mind raced thinking about the color of trauma and the trauma of color. The color-coding of race and identity is a history of oppression and violence. Color maims and murders as with...

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