- Curriculum: Art, Dance & Music, Language Arts
- Age/Grade: Above 14, Middle School
- Subject: Drawing, Painting, Performance, Writing
- Materials: Mixed Media
- Institution: The Keith Haring Foundation
- Location: New York, New York
- Duration: 3 - 7 Classes
This lesson, designed specifically for the New York City musical that chronicles Keith Haring's life, "Radiant Baby", takes students through pre and post musical writing & art assignments in an effort to help students realize their life goals and a path towards self-accomplishment.
To provide teachers with an educational tie in so they may use the Radiant Baby musical as a teaching tool in the classroom.
To assist students in thinking critically about themselves and the life experiences that have shaped and will continue to form their identity.
To expose students to the life and work of Keith Haring.
Computer & printer
8.5" x 11" White drawing paper
18" x 24" Oak-tag
Paint & painting supplies
Needles & thread
Read through Keith Haring's Life Story and Biography. Photocopy them and include some additional pictures of Haring's work for reference, for classes that don't have enough computers to accomodate each student. Then discuss Keith Haring's Life Story and Bio.
Describe some of the factors in Haring's childhood that may have shaped his work?
What are some strong memories that have shaped your life and interests?
What were some of the challenges for Haring as he grew up?
What are some of your challenges?
How do you think Haring felt being different?
In what ways do you feel different from others?
Why was New York City the perfect place for Haring to live?
Describe where you live now. Where would you like to live one day? Why? How are the locations different and similar from one another?
Why were Haring's dedication and determination such important qualities? How did they help him achieve success?
Can you think of some special qualities that you possess? How can those qualities help you achieve your goals
Do you think it was important for Haring to have a community of creative people around him? What sort of role do you think that played in his work?
What kind of people do you like to surround yourself around? Can you find special qualities that they share with you? What happens with a group of people that can't happen with just one?
What sort of things inspired Haring? What did he find beautiful?
What inspires you? What do you find beautiful? Describe why these things make an impression on you.
What sort of risks was Haring taking by making art?
What kind of risks do you take in your life? Why is it so important to take risks in life?
What sort of jobs did Haring do to support himself?
What are some of your jobs at home, or elsewhere? What are some of the things you've learned from them?
What were some of Haring's interests besides art? Did they play a role in his work? How?
What are some of your interests? What do you like about your favorite things? How do they make you feel?
Do you think it might have been overwhelming for Haring to experience such immediate fame?
Why did Haring like kids so much?
Why would working with children help him with this adjustment?
What makes a collaborative work of art (where two or more people work together to make a piece of art) so interesting?
Why was it so important for Haring to share his work with so many different kinds of people?
Why is so important that we meet lots of different kinds of people in our life?
What made Haring stay brave and strong after he found out that he had AIDS?
What makes you keep going on days that are difficult? What about your life do you love and want to share with the world?
How do you think Haring would like us to honor his life?
How do you want others to treat you?
Name some ways Haring provided inspiration and generosity to others? What might have been his motivation?
How does it feel when you help other people? Think of some ways you might be able to help your community or other people who need assistance. (Refer to "Extensions" at the bottom of the page)
How did the experiences Haring had during his lifetime inspire and inform his artwork? How did his life experiences frame his efforts to establish a Foundation that could help other people?
What sort of experiences would you like to have in the future to help you achieve your goals? How can you help others reach their goals?
Using these questions, have the students write their own life story up until now, "An Autobiography". Have them include factual information such as; where they were born and where they live, information about their family..., as well as more abstract information similar to what was discussed above- their favorite food, how they feel when they get a good grade, a fond memory, their opinion on a world event... This might be good as a homework assignment.
Review mixing paints, using varied brush strokes, and densities of paint, and then give the students paint and supplies to paint their own portraits. Allow them the freedom to explore their natural sense of proportion and scale.
GO TO THE RADIANT BABY MUSICAL
Discuss the musical. Compare it with the literature the class read on Keith Haring. Try to examine how students' opinions have become richer, more fleshed out. What new information did the musical provide? Was there anything missing from the musical?
What sort of theatric choices were made to create symbolic references? Describe the set, the music, the choreography, the performers...
Using the initial questions posed, have the students think about a future autobiography- one that picks up where the first writing assignment left off. A biography that explores the students' goals and desires in life, that examines self-reflection and a road towards independence. The focus should be on personal accomplishment and the tools necessary to achieve it. Help students merge their goals with reality- strategizing the steps to their own success and fulfillment.
Using the Facial Proportions sheet in the Downloadable Visual Aids section, study the proportions and scale of the face with students. Have each child bring in a small compact mirror to place on their desk so they may examine their own faces while studying the diagram. Beginning with pencil, have students map out their own portrait on paper. Once they have achieved their likenesses, ask them to age themselves by thinking about how they'll look in 20 years. Will they have wrinkles, glasses, freckles? Will their hair be different? Will they be heavier or thinner? Will they be wearing jewelry, makeup or a hat? Have them think back to what they wanted to be when they grow up. Using that as a guidline, the students can determine more accurately what they might look like and what they would be wearing. Distribute paints and painting supplies. Remember to emphasize color mixing (especially for skin tones), paint texture and density. Using big brush strokes first to fill the paper and then detail brushes for finer points once the entire paper is filled with color. Remind them to fill the background with color, as well as an environment that can help hint at what they want to be when they grow up.
Compare the two paintings. What did you learn? Did you notice anything new about your face you never noticed before? Which portrait looks more like you? Which portrait most represents who you are on the inside?
Take the first autobiography and place it face up. Then flip it over and place the second autobiography (the one from the future) and place it right side up, but upside down. Fold the large sheet of oak-tag in half and place the autobiographies inside of it. Sew a binding a half inch away from the folded edge of the oak-tag making sure to catch the autobiographies with the needle. Paste the portrait from the present on the oak-tag side that has the present autobiography (right side up) in the opening page. Turn the packet over (and upside down) and paste the future portrait on the side that contains the future autobiography (right side up). Run a piece of yarn through the inside/middle of the book, and leave a little extra to hang the yarn from a thumb tack. Hang them on the bulletin board and show off the wonderful work!
Have students trade their set of autobiographies with a classmate. The classmate will go up to the front of the class and act out their character from the "Now" autobiography, and the rest of the class will have to guess who it is. Then the classmate will act out their character from the "FUTURE" autobiography, and everyone in the class will have to guess what that person wants to be when they grow up.
After writing their autobiographies, ask student to interview someone (outside of their class). For their first homework, have them create a list of questions. For their second homework, have them interview their subject. For their third homework, have them make a portrait of this person. For their fourth homework, have them write an explanation as to why they chose this person and what they learned from interviewing them.
Vote as a class on different possibilities for helping other people who need assistance, just as Haring did. Perform that community service as a class project, integrating writing assignments about students' experiences, performing interviews, and noting the development and progress of community work (you may also use graphs for this).
Have students come up with their own quotes. Here are some of Keith Haring's quotes:
- I WANT TO TAKE ART TO THE STREETS.
- THE ONLY WAY ART LIVES IS THROUGH THE EXPERIENCE OF THE OBSERVER. THE REALITY OF ART BEGINS WITH THE EYES OF THE BEHOLDER, THROUGH IMAGINATION, INVENTION AND CONFRONTATION.
- WHAT I LIKE ABOUT CHILDREN IS THEIR IMAGINATION. IT'S A COMBINATION OF HONESTY AND FREEDOM THEY SEEM TO HAVE IN EXPRESSING WHATEVER IS ON THEIR MINDS- AND THE FACT THAT THEY HAVE A REALLY SOPHISTICATED SENSE OF HUMOR.
- I'VE ALWAYS BELIEVED THAT YOU LIVE LIFE AS FULLY AND AS COMPLETELY AS YOU CAN AND YOU DEAL WITH THE FUTURE AS IT COMES TO YOU.
- ART SHOULD BE SOMETHING THAT LIBERATES YOUR SOUL, PROVOKES THE IMAGINATION AND ENCOURAGES PEOPLE TO GO FURTHER.
- I AM INTERESTED IN MAKING ART TO BE EXPERIENCED AND EXPLORED BY AS MANY INDIVIDUALS AS POSSIBLE...
- MY DRAWINGS DON'T TRY TO IMITATE LIFE, THEY TRY TO CREATE LIFE, TRY TO INVENT LIFE.
- THERE IS HOPE OUT THERE IN THE FUTURE GENERATIONS.
- CHILDREN KNOW SOMETHING THAT MOST PEOPLE HAVE FORGOTTEN.