Tools for Discussing Haring’s Work



By maintaining a framework to lead a discussion, this outline will help make looking at, talking about, and responding to art less intimidating.


To have students look at and analyze Haring's work.

To allow students to synthesize what they see, and to express their observations.

To give students an opportunity to merge language with art.


Take the students to the Posters section or download some of the visual aids from the menu option on the right (print out images of Haring's work to view as a group if no computers are available). Begin by discussing one image to model for students the process of critically investigating art.

Use some of the following questions to help direct the group:

First discuss Appearance, Technique, & Process
Describe piece- Color, Pattern, Texture, Line, Symmetry, Composition
Describe materials- What material was used to make it. How was the material used?
Describe approach- How did the artist make it. What was he thinking, where was he when he made it?

Second, discuss Intent
What was the artist concerned with?
What parts are emphasized in the piece, why?
Who did the artist expect to show the work to and where?
Why would the artist make this work?

Third, discuss Interpretation
What was the artist thinking?
What did the artist want us to think? How do these two answers differ?
What do you think when looking at the work? How does that differ from what the artist wanted you to think?

Group the students in desks of 4 or 5. Have each student write an introduction paragraph of an imaginary story to describe what's going on in the piece. Then have them pass it to the next student to their right while they receive an intro sentence from the student on their left. Have the students rotate their stories within the group, each child adding paragraphs, making sure to include an introduction and a closing, then have the groups read the stories out loud to the class.


In addition to having helped students to develop wonderful stories as a response to the work, they have also begun to develop a dialogue to look at and discuss visual art. This is very valuable and can be included as a daily practice whether as a group or individually.

Have them draw their own pictures of the posters, paying close attention to detail. Many times we cannot fully stop and absorb until we take the time to really "listen" to an image. Drawing from observation gives us this opportunity because it frees the observer from interpretation and allows them to fully "hear".

Place posters around the room and have them answer the questions they responded to as a group with this project.

Exhibit the essays in the hallway with the posters to help other students and teachers to see how complex the act of looking at and understanding art can be.