Relationship Sculptures



Students examine and create clay sculptures based on a special relationship they have.


Students will become familiar with how artists have portrayed different relationships.

Students will examine relationships in their life.

Students will create a three-dimensional form.


Keith Haring
Juan Munoz

Positive and negative space


Self-hardening clay


The students will begin by examine the art historical references and by making observations of the works. Be sure to promote questions about what the works depict about the relationship between the couples.


How do these artists depict relationships in their work? Why do you think these artists chose to show relationships this way? What is the interaction between these two people? Give specific examples from the work that describes their relationship. What are examples of different relationships between people?

The students are going to focus on relationships for the subject of their sculpture project. Encourage them to take some time to examine different relationships. As they give examples such as a father/son, teacher/students write their answers on the board. Open up the experience and encourage the students to find examples of nontraditional relationships. For example the relationship between the old man who feeds the pigeons. After the topic has been verbally explored, have the students make quick thumbnail sketches for the sculpture. The thumbnails are to help students figure out their ideas, but if they feel confident the students can move directly into clay.


When the students begin on their sculptures encourage them to try to focus on creating simplistic forms for their figures and concentrate more on the interaction between the figures rather than the detail of each figure. Remind the students that their works are three-dimensional and will be viewed from all directions. They must think about the positive and negative space their sculptures create.

Have a critique of the sculptures. Talk about the relationships in the work. What evidence in the sculpture gave a clue to the relationship? Talk about the form of the sculpture and the positive and negative space created with the clay? Who was able to capture a more unique relationship or an interesting depiction of a relationship?

The students' work at the time of the critique should capture a moment between two figures that demonstrates the figures particular relationship. It will be good for the students to explore different interactions between people.

If the students have time encourage them to paint their sculptures or to make a drawing of their work.


The author of this lesson, Deidre Kenna, a Masters in Art Education student of the School of Visual Arts in NYC, is the 2003-2004 scholarship recipient of the Keith Haring Scholarship award. This project is a collaboration with The School of Visual Arts & a local NYC public high school.

To find out more about The Keith Haring Foundation Scholarship offered through the School of Visual Arts, please contact: Director, School of Visual Arts/Visual Arts Foundation, 15 Gramercy Park South, NYC 10003 or SVA's web site.