Cards Against Art School

We offer Cards Against Art School as an expansion pack for Cards Against Humanity. This deck is our way of turning something traumatic—our varied experiences with racism while studying art and design—into something cathartic, absurd, and possibly fun.

Modeled after Cards Against Humanity, this deck of cards takes real scenarios, feelings, and experiences shared by students from ArtCenter during a workshop called Press Pause and turns them into the building blocks of even more ridiculous stories that aim to keep us laughing through the literal/figurative tears. Racism is serious, obscene, mundane, and shows up in particularly weird and problematic ways when you’re studying how to make images and things and technologies. This game—both the act of making it and playing it—is a coping strategy, not an attempt to solve the problem. 

Who is it for?

We made this deck for ourselves, first and foremost, to catalogue some of the egregiously racist things we hear and live as students at a private art and design college while finding a way to laugh to keep from crying, as it were. Treat this as a prototype, a working draft, and share your feedback or ideas for new cards with us so we can keep adding to it.

Why did we make it?

Cards Against Art School is a byproduct of Press Pause: A small workshop held in the spring of 2019 in which ArtCenter students worked through what happens and how we react when we experience or observe racism at school or in our learning environments more broadly. We chose to memorialize the stories students shared in the form of this deck and, in retrospect, hope it can accomplish a few things: First, to extend the reach and influence of the workshop into a tool for starting and sustaining conversations about what students of color endure while studying art and design at institutions of higher education. Second, we chose this format instead of writing a report or producing a documentary because, while students’ accounts of racialized mistreatment may serve as valuable currency to hold institutions accountable for reforming; we’re also sick of being asked to recount these traumas to administrators in exchange for inaction or condescension, or both. So, while we hope that sharing what we learned in this way may visibilize these problem(s) in a new way, we’re mostly just concerned with finding ways to have these conversations that feel restorative and make us laugh, even if temporarily, through the dark, dry humor we can share with other folks who “get it.”

Who made it?

The Press Pause workshop was organized by the Antiracist Classroom and held on March 31, 2019. Seventeen students attended and departments represented included: MDP, Product Design, Film, Fine Art, Illustration, Graduate Graphic Design, Undergraduate Graphic Design, Advertising, and Transportation Design. A few of us—Kizzy Memani, Cosme Cruz, Sophie de Lara, Melissa Ferrnandez, and Lauren Williams—got together afterward to make up these cards.