Keith Haring & Social Awareness



This thorough educational curriculum was designed by the Tampa Museum of Art to coincide with the exhibition: "Keith Haring: Art & Commerce," on view March 18 through June 11, 2006.


Students will:

Make connections between the visual arts, other disciplines, and the real world.

Assess, evaluae, and respond to the characteristics of works of art.

Understand the visual arts in relation to history and culture.

create and communicate a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas using knowledge of structures and functions of visual arts.

Understand the interactions of people and the physical environment.

Use viewing strategies effectively.

Determine main concept and supporting details in a non-print message.

Understand historical chronology and the historical perspective.

Understand significant achievements in the humanities.


1) Observation and Description:
Ask students to look carefully at the four sections of one of Haring's paintings. Describe the people and characters that you see. What do they look like? What are they wearing? How old are the different characters? How can you tell? Describe the surroundings. What do you see? How many people are there? How many different characters are there? What is the space like? Who is in the middle of each painting? Is anyone around him? What is he doing? What is in the background? What is in the foreground? What colors do you see in the painting?

2) Analysis:
Where is the action taking place: near or far? How would this event look from a different angle? Describe the pose of the people in the painting. Who do you look at first? Why? Is the same or different about the characters in the painting? What is happening during this scene? If you could pick one character from the painting, what do you think his story would be? How do you know? If you were to walk into the scenes in the painting, what would you hear? What would you smell? What would you feel? What would the weather be like? How do you know?

3) Interpretation:
What moment did the artist capture? Where is your eye drawn first and where does it move next? Who or what is most important in this work of art? Have you seen any of these characters illustrated before? If so, how was it similar or different from this drawing? What do you think the artist is telling us about his characters? What do you think the people and characters in this drawing are feeling? Why do you think they feel that way? How does the artist help us know what mood his characters are in?

4) Judgment:
What do you think of the work of art? Does the painting do a good job of capturing a specific moment in time? Do you think that Haring wanted to tell us something about his characters? Do you like this work of art? Why or why not? How does artwork reflect the social or political aspects of a society or the views of the artist?

1) Make your own Treasure Box!
Originally designed by the Whitney Museum in New York City, this lesson encourages students to continue to process and understand Keith Haring's work after they leave the museum. Working with pencils, markers, paper, and a shoebox, students design their own unique language of symbols and lines just like Haring. After drawing on the paper, students cover the shoebox and store special objects, poems, diary entries, and other important objects.

2) Mural Making!
Think big to design and create an indoor mural in the activity room, media center, lunchroom, or other public space at your school. If you are not able to paint ont he wall itself, use a wood panel or canvas. Discuss the effect of murals on their surroundings and study Haring's popular murals across the globe!

3) Personalize it!
Encourage a discussion about symbols. Have students list all the popular symbols they know. Discuss how "tag" symbols are personal and original. Have students create their own personal symbol to represent the ways that they are unique and special.

4) Studying Haring's Public Mural: "Crack is Wack"
Originally designed by the Keith Haring Foundation and The Children's Storefront in New York City, this lesson gives students an opportunity to examine and reflect on one of Haring's most influential landmarks.

5) Design your own Coloring Book!
After reading Keith Haring's book "Nina's Little Things," have students create their own starting points for a personal coloring book. Some ideas include: draw some things you hear, you've found and lost, what you think about at night and in the morning, yourself and how other people see you, a story, your favorite foods, and many more!

1) Be Socially Aware!
Use Haring's work as a starting point to start a class discussion about issues and themes that affect our current society. Research, discuss, and create a project that can create awareness and help support a meaningful and positive cause or organization.

2) Volunteer!
Spend one day a year with your students, family, or school volunteering for a positive community organization.

3) Educate Yourself!
Use the Keith Haring web sites and are fantastic resources for students, teachers, parents and children. Download screensavers, print coloring book pages, send e-cards, and find a complete listing and archive of Haring's work.