Relationships in Art



An introductory lesson to Relationship Sculptures, that explores personal relationships and how these dynamics can be communicated through art.


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

Students will examine relationships in their life.

Students will collaborate to demonstrate a particular relationship.


Keith Haring - Valentine's Day picture (p. 235 of KH Journals)
Monica Sjoo - Lovers





Students will begin by examine the art historical references and by making observations of the works.


How do these artists depict relationships in their work? How does that differ from the way the media portrays relationships? How do these ideas support or contradict the way you would portray a relationship?


Have all the students take out a piece of paper. Have them think about someone that they have a relationship. It could be a boyfriend, girlfriend, a parent, a good friend or their boss. It could be anyone that they have formed a relationship with, regardless of how that relationship is defined. Have the students write down a brief story about that person. It could be a funny story. It could be about when this person got you really mad. Anything, just write a short story that sticks out in your mind about that person.


Have the students break up into small group of about four and have them quick tell each other their stories. They have to decide on one story to present to the class using themselves arranged most convincingly to express the story of the relationship without words or movement. While they present the pose, the rest of the class tries to determine the story. The students are to explain their interpretation of what they see by citing specific details from the group's pose.

The students will reflect about the specific details that they emphasized in their scene that help to capture that particular moment or convent their intended story.

It will be hard for some students to get involved in the action of this project, so that why it is good to have at least four in the group so that some can be center stage while other students can add to the background details. Their ability to really focus on the convincing details is how the assessment will be based. In their final reflection, they will focus their attention on how certain details carry the whole story of action for their work.

In the next project, have the students think about the relationship story that they wrote down and shared with their group. Ask them to create a sculpture that depicts that story where the students pay particular attention to those details that convincingly carry the message of their story.

For a follow up lesson see the Relationship Sculpture lesson.


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.