Press Pause //CAAS 

Press Pause was 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. Later resulting in our first edition CAAS (Cards Against Art School Deck).

Design Research
Social Impact

My Role
Art Director

Kizzy Memani
Cosme Cruz 
Melissa Ferrnandez 
Lauren Williams
Nidhi Singh

Phase I -



I am a co-organizer of, at the time, primarily an on-campus, activist group called The Antiracist Classroom at ArtCenter College of Design. In the beginning of the Spring Semester in 2019 we held a potluck to reconnect with our community of students and hear what were the current needs. There were multiple concerns raised (many times even prior to this meeting) that individuals did not feel equipped or confident to address racist and problematic incidents that happen in their classrooms.

Research Questions
I consider this apart of some of my larger research and activist work around dismantling white supremacy at our institution that I did while attending ArtCenter.

These reoccurring problems raised many questions for our team:

What are our personal experiences around speaking up or not?

If so many of us have similar shared experiences, how can we support each other?

What kind of space could we hold to work through our shared trauma together?

How do we create a safe space? How do we create a space of process instead of solutions?

The Press Pause was a workshop where students were able to deconstruct moments of racist and unjust interactions through peer-to-peer dialogue. 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.

The workshop included:

  • Food!!
  • Students ONLY
  • Shared ground rules to create a safe space
  • Play: Ice Breakers
  • Pause: Deconstruct the Moment (working through physical, mental, and emotional responses)
  • Rewind//Fast Forward: Reflect together. Strategize together.

Pause: Deconstruct The Moment Use this mad-lib card to individually process through a racist incident that happened at school.

“As a result of the Press Pause Workshop, 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.”

The Antiracist Classroom

The Outcome


At the end of the workshop we collected and documented all the responses and stories. There were key takeaways that were gained as we synthesized and combed through all the information. Here are two:

  1. Recognizing Emotional/Intellectual/Physical Reactions to Racism >> The way people talked about these responses, they seem to start with the emotional/physical responses and move into intellectualizing them as they think through what’s going on around them and what they might be able to do to respond

  2. The after effects of experiencing a racist incident at school can have material effects on students’ academic performance and day-to-day experience/comfort at school

What we made and why
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.

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 radicalized 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 visualize 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.”

Next Steps

One of our Organizers just recently took the deck to 2019 AICAD and tested it with other AICAD Art School administrators and faculty.

We want to find more Art School students and Alumni to play, contribute and build with us! If that’s you - hit my contact!