“The Cards We Were Dealt”

The Women’s Studio Workshop artist book collection (linked here) is filled with amazing pieces, and among them is one by Kingston High School Senior Art Seminar Students titled “The Cards We Were Dealt.” This book object has a variety of different features that makes it stand out from the rest, namely the way the content is displayed as a deck of playing cards.

According to the description from the students presented on the WSW website, the inspiration for the project came from the face cards in a traditional deck of playing cards which represent the hierarchy of medieval societies. The students took this idea further to create a book object depicting the hierarchy of the modern society we live in today. As a result, the book object created by the Kingston High School students parallels a traditional deck of cards while making a statement about the roles we fill today.

[Image Description] Some of the cards present within the project. Kingston High School Senior Art Seminar Students, 2021.

The book object itself really challenges the traditional conceptions of the book. The project lacks many of the features commonly attributed to books, with each “playing card” consisting of two panels connected together to house the content in the inside—similar to the structure of a folder. The front of each “folder” depicts the images present on a traditional deck of cards, while the back contains their modern counterparts. The cards then can be stacked on top of each other to represent the class systems and hierarchies we find within modern society.

[Image Description] The cards displayed in their hierarchal stacking structure. Kingston High School Senior Art Seminar Students, 2021.

This piece stood out to me the most because I would never initially think of it as a type of book. Instead, I more likely would view it as a sort of statement piece far removed from the book world. However, as I discover more book objects and become accustomed to ways artists challenge familiar concepts, it’s easier to see projects such as “The Cards We Were Dealt” as incredibly creative and inspiring combinations of art and literature.

Work Cited:

Kingston High School Senior Art Seminar Students. (2021). The Cards We Were Dealt. Women’s Studio Workshop. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from https://wsworkshop.org/collection/the-cards-we-were-dealt/.

4 thoughts on ““The Cards We Were Dealt””

  1. Huh, I hadn’t thought about the idea of a deck of cards as a book either. But, it sounds like an incredible idea. And probably a pretty fun one too!


  2. I think the whole idea of using cards as a book object is really interesting! Instead of a book, we’re given more of a story or narrative. It kind of reminds me of the (minimal) knowledge I have with tarot cards when it comes to the storytelling element.


  3. I have to admit, the title and colors of this post initially drew me in, but I am so glad that I had the chance to read through this post because this piece is truly unique and has such an inspirational purpose. I love how you state that this book object challenges the traditional conceptions of the book.


  4. I agree with you that I wouldn’t usually consider a deck of cards to be a book, but it’s so interesting to see how literature manifests in different ways! I love how this book challenges the very nature of the “book,” as well as raises challenging questions about our societal roles as the new content of the cards ties into the historical context.


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