CWU News

International Political and Social Street Stickers Subject of Next CWU Exhibit

Sticker ExhibitStreet stickers are moving beyond stop signs and dumpsters, into the spotlight where they aregaining appreciation for their simple form but powerful social commentary in exhibits and art galleries.

Works of international sticker artists will be shown in a dual exhibition at the Museum of Culture & Environment (MCE) at Central Washington University from January 4 through March 10, 2018.

More than 1,600 street stickers from around the world—both historic and contemporary—will be on display in Rewriting the Streets: The International Language of Stickers and Paper Bullets: 100 Years of Political Stickers from Around the World exhibits. The exhibits will be accompanied by 41 artist statements and numerous text panels providing a deeper understanding of the work.

“There’s something mischievous about them [street stickers] which people respond to—it’s fun and slightly edgy, stickers are a very democtratic art form,” said exhibit curator Catherine Tedford.

Rewriting the Streets will give visitors insight into the many different types of street stickers, from those poking fun at conventional notions of art to those offering passionate critiques of economic inequality, racism, sexism, and invasions of personal privacy.

A second exhibition, Paper Bullets, focuses exclusively on political stickers, dating from the early 1900s to today.  From I.W.W., Industrial Workers of the World, stickers from the 1910s to protests over the U.S. Vietnam War, these political stickers were a way for activists to spread the word about important issues. 

Tedford, describes one of her favorite contemporary stickers as not being graphic, just text based, but how it made her stop in her tracks to think. The sticker reads:  “What have you done to make things better?” 

“That’s what stickers are, they are simple but they carry very powerful messages.”

Catherine Tedford and Oliver Baudach have collected thousands of street stickers. Tedford, gallery director at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, writes about stickers in a blog, Stickerkitty. Baudach recently founded Hatch Kingdom, a Berlin museum devoted to stickers. Together they curated these two traveling exhibitions.

Some of the stickers were curated from the back of stop signs, bike racks, and other public spaces. While many are new and were acquired from collectors and other sources.

As a form of graffiti, stickers are an accessible art form: affordable or even free, and relatively easy to make and display. The stickers that appear on city streets are made for many different reasons: to offer commentary or critique about social issues, to promote websites or products, or to protest against the many advertisements that permeate our everyday lives—on trains, billboards, and even our clothing. 

“Even though there may not be an active street or sticker scene (compared to large metropolitan cities) where [CWU] is geographically, 95 percent of your students that walk in with laptops or skateboards, I’d bet they have stickers on them,” Tedford said.

Rewriting the Streets and Paper Bullets will be on display from January 4 to March 10, 2018, in the MCE, located on the first floor of Dean Hall at 1200 Wildcat Way.

For more information, visit the museum website at, email, or call the gallery at 509-963-2313. The MCE is free and open to the public Wednesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Parking on CWU campus is free on Saturdays. 

Top: Street Artist Shepard Fairey's framed stickers exhibited in the CWU Museum of Culture & Environment.

Media Contact: Dawn Alford, Public Affairs, 509-963-1484,