Through contemporary social media applications, non-traditional artists now hold the ability to curate their own artistic identities and associated brands. Accordingly, the constant use of social media platforms and consistent reinforcement of familiar artistic styles and characters, have become linked to the artist’s relationship with their public following. In the case of the street artist KAWS, the artist has strategically built the familiar foundations of his public persona upon the repeated use of the character Companion, frequent social media interactions, and consistent brand collaborations. In bringing an artist utilizing such contemporary methods into the traditional museum space, it can be questioned whether the institution will simply serve as yet another public platform for the creator to further establish their identity and brand. This phenomenon is further explored through a case study of the career-spanning exhibition, KAWS: WHAT PARTY, located at the Brooklyn Museum through September 2021. Through his strategic brand marketing, KAWS has come to exemplify the question of whether museums continue to function as the public’s primary exposure to art, or if they now stand as venues for artists to market themselves. Through visiting the exhibition, I evaluate how the aforementioned strategies are used to reinforce the identity that KAWS has already established for himself, and his brand. As a result of these evaluations, I determine the ways in which KAWS uses the KAWS: WHAT PARTY exhibition as yet another platform to perpetuate his artistic identity, and recognition of his brand.

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Museum Studies (BS)


Rebecca DeRoo

Advisor/Committee Member

Jonathan Schroeder

Advisor/Committee Member

Juilee Decker


RIT – Main Campus