St. Lawrence University
Catherine Tedford received an MFA in printmaking from the University of Massachusetts in 1983 and has been the director of the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery at St. Lawrence University (NY, US) since 1989. Her focus on street art stickers began during a trip to Berlin in 2003. Since then, she has collected over 8,000 stickers from Berlin and New York City, as well as cities across Germany, the United States, Canada, and elsewhere. She has presented papers at academic conferences in the United States, Germany, and England. Her writing can also be found on her research blog Stickerkitty.
Street Art Stickers: Silent Agitators, Paper Bullets, and Night Raiders
Publicly placed stickers with printed images and/or text have been used for decades as a form of political protest or to advocate political agendas. In the early 1900s, for example, labor unions in the United States posted “silent agitators” calling for fair working hours and wages. During World War I and World War II, “paper bullets” were dropped from airplanes over countries across Europe to be used as combat propaganda. And in the 1960s and ‘70s, “night raiders” in the U.S. were stuck on envelopes and elsewhere protesting the war in Vietnam abroad and civil inequalities at home.
Known commonly today as street art stickers, these examples of political ephemera are printed on paper and vinyl as silkscreens, stencils, linocuts, Xeroxes, and offset lithographs. Some artists create one-of-a-kind do-it-yourself stickers, while others mass-produce a thousand or more stickers at a time to distribute among friends. Stickers can be found on street signs, telephone poles, windows, or any other imaginable surface of the built environment.
Street art stickers continue to be used to comment upon and critique important issues of the day, to oppose authority, or simply to engage passersby. In this illustrated presentation, I discuss contemporary political stickers from Germany, Spain, Canada, and the United States that address topics including sports and anti-fascism, national and global economic crises, student tuition strikes, and environmental issues, respectively. Using original examples from my personal collection of over 8,000 stickers, I show a range of sticker genres and explain their various formats and functions. Every sticker tells a story, or more likely, an under-reported story that is missing in commercial journalism and mainstream media. Sharing these stories with others, especially young people, is important to me.