Sticker-art exhibition at Appaloosa Library explores gender roles

Sticker Traps by Malena Barnhart. (Photo by Daniel Funkhouser, special to Independent Newsmedia)

Sticker Traps, Malena Barnhart’s new exhibition in the Gallery @ Appaloosa Library, explores gender roles through common “mass culture residue.”

Using stickers found on the “pink aisles” of toy and craft stores, Ms. Barnhart creates mixed-media collages featuring different types of traps and constraints, according to a release.

The Tempe-based artist said mass-produced children’s stickers are often stylized symbols that reflect American culture’s gender roles.

“Stickers for boys tend toward the functional. There are often doctors, firefighters, construction equipment and vehicles in this type of imagery,” Ms. Barnhart said in the release.

“Stickers for girls are often visually appealing but more problematic in content. Girl stickers feature hearts, flowers, prey animals, princess paraphernalia, fashion accessories and female bodies,” she said.

Ms. Barnhart noted how stickers are often bestowed or denied by teachers based on compliance. She said they allow for creativity, but within preordained constraints.

“They are an ephemeral form of mass culture residue, but they matter,” she said in the release.

Ms. Barnhart has an undergraduate degree in studio art from the University of Maryland and a master of fine arts in photography from Arizona State University.

Through repurposing mass culture materials — including children’s stickers, YouTube videos, party decorations and sex toys — her work examines the role enculturation plays in the marginalization of women, according to the release.

In addition to the Sticker Traps exhibition at the Appaloosa Library, Ms. Barnhart has artwork in the Object Inspiration exhibition at Chandler Center for the Arts.

She has shown her work nationally and locally, including the Israeli Cinema Museum at the University of Minnesota and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Sticker Traps will be on display through Aug. 31 at the Appaloosa Library, 7377 E. Silverstone Drive in Scottsdale.

Library hours are 9 a.m.–8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 1–5 p.m. on Sundays. For information visit or call 480-874-4645.

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