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Pratt Students Design 'Playful Protest' Items For Undocumented Immigrants

There are millions of undocumented immigrants across the country and an estimated 560,000 in New York City alone. But most designers haven’t given them much thought—until now.

This semester, graduate students at Pratt Institute were posed a challenge: How could they apply their design skills to the problems of undocumented immigrants?

On Tuesday, students presented their final projects.



Some of them were highly conceptual, while others were more practical. One student, Alejandro Moyano, designed a wearable camera, one that wouldn’t just capture your encounter with ICE agents but would stream it on Facebook.

Another student, Oya Tekbulut, prototyped something irreverent: a golden lollipop resembling an ICE officer's badge. She chose quintessential Mexican flavors: lime and cumin.

“This is essentially what I would call a playful protest, because with every lick or bite you take from this lollipop you're basically taking something from that [ICE agent’s] authority.”

ICE featured heavily in these projects. Garrett Benisch created an Ice Planter, designed for a non-native plant. Perched over the plant is a place where you can set an ice cube, to irrigate it.

“We were at Federal Plaza and a lot of the chants that we would hear and signs you would see said 'Melt Ice.' And so [we were] looking to embody that.”

Activists and immigrants with the New Sanctuary Coalition played a major role in developing the students' designs. The class instructor, Alex Schweder said one of the objectives of the course is to make resistance more inviting.

“Things should be pleasurable and fun, because people want to become part of something that's fun. I think we culturally have a very long history of doing incredibly serious things under the guise of play.”

Pratt's Undocumented Design course continues for two more semesters. Click through the photos for more descriptions of the projects.

Arun Venugopal is a reporter who focuses on issues of race and immigration. You can follow him on Twitter at @arunNYC.

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