- Curriculum: Art, Art Criticism, Language Arts
- Age/Grade: Above 14, Elementary 3, Middle School
- Subject: Analysis and Theory, Drawing
- Materials: Markers, Pencils
- Institution: Art Gallery of Ontario
- Location: Toronto, Canada
- Duration: 2 Classes
An activity provided by the Art Gallery of Ontario, this lesson seeks to help children identify and express their emotions through lines and symbols, just as Keith Haring did.
Learn about Keith Haring's art, specifically his art-making methods and his use of line and shape to create a symbolic language.
Understand that line may be used expressively to represent emotions.
Understand that shapes may be used as symbols, representing meanings.
Explore the expressive quality of line and the symbolic quality of shape in order to create their own visual language.
Participate in group discussions, contributing personal ideas as they relate to symbolic language.
Create lines that represent emotions.
Create a visual language by assigning personal meanings to original shapes.
35 Boards and Chains 3'
Newsprint (each student needs a piece 10" x 14" approx.)
Construction Paper (each student needs a piece 10" x 14" approx.)
Metal Scissors (1 pair per student)
Large Black Felt Magic Markers (1 per student)
Symbols and Signs
The Symbols and Signs section encourages students to look at, respond to and create symbols. Ask the students what a line makes when it begins and ends at the same point. A shape. The students will list the geometric shapes and then discuss irregular shapes. Haring drew both regular shapes like the pyramid and irregular shapes like the barking dog. Hold up cards to illustrate these. The class will now watch either the video or slide presentation, whichever one they have not yet seen.
Slide Presentation (emphasis on symbols)
The slides are listed above in the Line and Expression section. In this presentation the emphasis will be on symbols and their meanings.
Ask the students what they think the symbols mean? Crawling baby=life, energy, happiness. Radiating lines=energy, glowing power (originally came from the spaceships). The spaceship and pyramid are connected to an unknown force. Haring considered the 3-Eyed Face like an icon and gave stickers of it away at the opening of his art shows. Of what do the barking dogs make you think? Discuss how symbols can have different meanings in different contexts. Haring created a visual language using his symbols.
Symbols and meanings
Video Presentation (emphasis on symbols)
The video presentation will show the students some of Haring's symbols and shapes. Before the presentation, ask the students to make a mental note of some of the symbols that Haring repeatedly used.
After the presentation, discuss the symbols. Ask the students to name an image and think what it might mean. The Radiant Baby is probably his most popular image. What do you think the baby means? Crawling baby=life, energy, happiness. Radiating lines=energy, glowing power (originally came from the spaceships). The spaceship and pyramid are connected to an unknown force. Haring considered the 3-Eyed Face like an icon and gave stickers of it away at the opening of his art shows. Of what do the barking dogs make you think? Discuss how symbols can have different meanings in different contexts. Haring created a visual language using his symbols.
The Chain Activity encourages students to make their own language symbols. Each student will find a partner. It may be necessary to have one group of three. Give each pair a chain, a board, about 6 cue cards and a marker. Demonstrate the symbol-making process. One student from each pair will move the chain around the board and then let go. The other student will have three or four moves to manipulate the chain into a shape. Together they will discuss what the shape looks like and what it may stand for or represent. A shape may have more than one meaning. One of the students will draw the shape on the cue card and write the meaning on the back. Then the partners will reverse roles and continue the exercise until they have made approximately 5 symbol cards. The younger students may take more time to create fewer symbols.
Encourage a discussion about symbols. Have the students list all the popular symbols they know. Remind them that a tag symbol is personal and original. Their symbol should be like no other.
Have the students move to the tables. Here they may each present one of their symbols to the class. Give each student a piece of newsprint to create a personal tag symbol. They may want to refer to the symbols they made with the chains. The students will sketch their tags onto the newsprint. They will then draw their tags on construction paper, cut them out and draw other symbols with marker all over their symbol card. The students will tidy up their working area. Collect the tags.