The Tarpaulin Project

The Tarpaulin Project

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A lesson that practically guarantees great results AND a low budget! The Tarpaulin Project was developed by the Education Staff at the Art Gallery of Ontario in an effort to help students become more familiar with Keith Haring's work and working methods while cultivating students' ability to express emotions on a visual level.


To learn about Keith Haring's art, specifically his art-making methods and his use of line and shape to create a symbolic language.

To understand that line may be used expressively to represent emotions.

To understand that shapes may be used as symbols, representing meanings.

To explore the expressive quality of line and the symbolic quality of shape in order to create their own visual language.

To have students participate in group discussions, contributing personal ideas as they relate to symbolic language.

To create a visual language by assigning personal meanings to original shapes.

To work cooperatively designing an original and expressive art piece by manipulating tape on a tarpaulin.


8' x 10' tarpaulin for every 10 students
Rolls of colored hockey tape (bright colors)
Rolls of electric tape (black)


The Tarpaulin Project enables the students to work on a tarp like Keith Haring did. Haring began in one corner of the tarp and built one drawing on top of another. Instead of using paint like Haring, the students will experiment with a uniform line using colored tape. Demonstrate how the students can manipulate the tape to make curves and circles.

Approximately ten students will work on each tarp. Encourage the group members to discuss their plans, take their time and think about the symbols that they want to create. Think about a border. Have the students incorporate their personal tags into their tarp designs. Hand out rolls of colored tape for the students to use as a drawing tool. The students may choose to use the black electric tape to decorate the tape lines.

It is important that the students know that an important part of any art activity is the clean-up. Ask the students to start the clean-up five minutes before the studio program is to end. They must also fold up the tarpaulins so that they are ready to take back to school. When everything is organized and the students are ready to go, gather the class. Ask the students what they remember most about Keith Haring's work. Let the students know that the studio is open to the public on Family Sundays.


Hang tarps in a gymnasium or outside a school as banners. They already have the grommets to thread rope through!

AGO's web site