In March of this year, SCHUNCK launched the challenge: Keith Haring de wijk in (or ‘Keith Haring in the community’). This was prompted by the Keith Haring: Grace House Mural exhibition at SCHUNCK. For Marc van Soest, art teacher at De Buitenhof school in Heerlen, his appetite was whetted immediately. ‘It provided an opportunity to take on an art project on a school-wide basis,’ he explains enthusiastically.
Before the project commenced, pupils first made a visit to the Keith Haring: Grace House Mural exhibition. ‘The kids were enthusiastic. And it was fascinating to hear the discussions they had. Is it really art? What’s the story behind the piece of art? And the subjects which Haring addressed: were they still current today?’ Marc explains. ‘In this sense, art really does have a wider social function: it’s not just about handiwork.’ De Buitenhof is one of the four schools which were chosen by SCHUNCK to explore Haring’s legacy and breathe new life into it. As well as pupils’ work being shown in SCHUNCK, some works will also be on display at shops and stores throughout the city centre: there are 15 of these. Can you spot them all?
Against the background of the Keith Haring, pupils of different ages at De Buitenhof were set to work on the project. Haring’s works served as a starting point for them to create their own art. Shape, colour and material were central themes. For example, a lot of waste or residual material has been used to create these works of art, each of which is an ode to Keith Haring and his ideas. The works can be seen at various locations in the centre of Heerlen.
De Buitenhof provides primary and secondary education for pupils with special educational needs. The pupils receive additional support because of the behavioural and/or psychological issues they have. As well as this special support, they receive mainstream schooling too, just like in other schools. For this project, all children at the school took part, young and old Technology students, for example, produced cut-out figures, and the classes were given a cut-out figure, each in their own colour.
Pupils collected materials themselves to ‘decorate’ these figures. That too, was also done by the classes themselves. Marc and his colleagues thought it would be a good idea to connect as closely as possible to Haring’s work and ideas. ‘As we brainstormed, we thought of taking the idea of street art. What if the art is on the street already, what if street waste is used to make art? The idea came about to ‘decorate’ the Haring-like figures with litter, such as drinks cans and cartons, paper, plastic, old toys and packaging materials.’