Fifth Graders have been studying the life and art of Pop Artist Keith Haring. Haring grew up in Pennsylvania and wanted to become an artist. As a child he loved Dr. Suess, drawing cartoons, as well as the graffiti and hip-hop scene. He moved to New York City to pursue his dream of becoming an artist, but was discouraged when he couldn’t afford to get into the museums and art galleries. He thought that everybody should be able to enjoy art.
After riding on the subways for a while, Haring started to notice the blank advertising spots and black spaces that he passed every day. After getting off the train one day, he ran upstairs and bought some chalk and started to draw some of his cartoons. He had to be quick, though! His drawings were simple, but still held a lot of meaning. Some people loved it, and some people thought he was vandalizing property. My fifth graders were all ears, because they too have used sidewalk chalk. So, a discussion ensued about when and where can art take place.
Students discussed his art, including: his use of bright colors, easy to read gestures, lines that showed movement and sound, and his incorporation of universal symbols. We also discussed how his art, and the above techniques were used to send a message and convey a meaning.
Keith Haring soon became a sensation and had his own galleries and was placed in museums. He never forget how he got started, though, and opened up a “Pop Show” to sell his artwork at affordable prices.
He was diagnosed with a disease that not a lot of people knew about during that time. We learned that ignorance = fear. A lot of people were scared of his illness, and therefore would shun him. He used his artwork as a platform to raise awareness for the disease and to spread the idea of love and peace among people.
Students worked in teams to trace a body, paint it, outline it, and cut it out. When students were finished, they played the game “Roll a Haring” to create their own Haring inspired characters.
It doesn't matter what age, students love to talk about Vincent Van Gogh! His vibrant colors and interesting texture always grabs their attention. They can sense the emotion in his work and love to talk about it. They also love the crazy stories about Van Gogh--like cutting his ear off. Most of them have seen a Van Gogh painting outside of my classroom, so its always fun to hear them report about it. And I know they love spotting it.