Author Kay Haring will visit Kutztown Area School District May 4 to 6, during which time she will be conducting three assemblies in two days to read her new book “Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing,” written by her and illustrated by Robert Neubecker.

Iconic pop artist Keith Haring comes to life for young readers in this picture book biography written by his sister Kay Haring. Come visit with Kay and see the 6th grade Art Exhibition inspired by the art of Keith Haring. She will also do a Book Signing in conjunction with the Kutztown Middle School Art Exhibit Friday, May 5, from 6 to 8 p.m. In honor of the Haring Family, proceeds of the Book Sale will go to the KASD Education Foundation. The Visual Arts Program of KASD sponsors this event.

Keith, Kay and their sisters Karen and Kristen all attended grades K-12 at KASD. Coming from an artistic family, Kay did her fair share of sketching and drawing while growing up, but found expressing herself with words more to her liking. Kay spent many years professionally in the nonprofit field, both in management and fundraising.

Jacquie Landis-Garcia, Kutztown Education Foundation facilitator of this event, said, “Back in 1966-67 our family moved from my childhood home at 230 South Whiteoak Street. Built by my great grand-parents right next to then the Kutztown Elementary school, its proximity provided a convenient playground and safe area for our myriad of imaginative games. My childhood home would now be home to the Haring family - one boy, Keith, and three adorable little girls, Kay, Karen and Kristen. I was happy they would be able to enjoy the playground and also the playhouse in the back yard, which my father, Richard Landis, so lovingly constructed in his free time for my siblings and me. It became the source of endless happiness for our neighborhood friends and us.”

When Kay Haring and Landis-Garcia got together recently, they reminisced about ‘The Playhouse.’

“How we all let our imaginations soar there as children. It became a dollhouse, a police station, a sheriff’s office, or an art studio. Wherever our child’s mind would take us, the playhouse provided the backdrop and gave us endless hours of playtime joy,” said Landis-Garcia.

It was then that Kay proudly showed her a page in her inspiring biographical book, “Keith Haring, The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing,” written about her brother, the artist, Keith Haring.

“There it was - a beautifully illustrated picture of the playhouse! “Oh my,” I thought, “Dad would love this.” I certainly did. It was a touching moment,” said Landis-Garcia. “I am happy to think that in my childhood home and in my childhood playhouse grew the imagination of the famed, iconic pop artist, Keith Haring, and perhaps inspired him to “keep on drawing in that very playhouse.””

Leah Nissley, Kutztown University student teacher with KMS Art Teacher Kris Tuerk, said, “Students in all art classes at Kutztown Middle School have been learning about and drawing from the influence of Keith Haring. 6th graders are creating watercolor paintings with scenes inspired by Haring’s use of symbols as a mode of visual communication. 7th grade is learning how to simplify the expression of an issue down to one or two symbols and then transferring their designs to a linoleum block and creating hand cut linoleum print plates to be inked and printed on various surfaces. 8th graders are creating short stop motion film explorations with a different media in each class as well as creating independent films outside of class. All three grades of student work will be shown at the Kay Haring Book Signing and Art Show on May 5.”

She said the objectives for the lessons (for all grade levels) were for students to apply the theory of Semiotics to their work through the use of symbols as communication, use the process of preliminary sketching and brainstorming discussion to generate multiple ideas for artistic work, and answer essential questions such as how did Keith Haring use Semiotics in his artwork? and How do artists emulate or work out of the influence of other artists without copying their work?

KASD High School Art Teacher Benjamin E. Hoffman said, “Inspired by community and collage, students of the Fine Arts Appreciation course at Kutztown Area High School, collaboratively assembled a large-scale mural made up of thousands of monochromatic color swatches. Unknowing to the outcome of what the image would reveal, student’s teamed up to construct each piece, soon to reveal an assemblage of Keith Haring and some of his most iconic works. In keeping true to Haring’s bold line work, students collaged overtop a framework of Ben-Day dots to reveal the image. The collective effort took over three weeks to assemble. Though it may not reveal an exact representation of Haring and his work, the sense of community that was fostered because of this undertaking is a true embodiment of what Keith Haring means to our students’ and the impact his work can have on others.”

Kutztown University Assistant Professor of Art Education Julia L. Hovanec, PhD., Assistant for Kay Haring during the KMS Assembly and the Book Signing/Art Show Event, said, “I am just so thrilled to be a part of this event. I have been teaching art for more than twenty-five years and no matter the grade level (Kindergarten to Graduate Students) I have taught about Keith Haring; his life and his work. His work teaches us that art can convey meaning and even make change. This concept is an essential one for students of all ages to know and understand. They soon realize that they have the capabilities to do the same. The inspirational picture book, Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing, reminds us to keep doing what we are passionate about - no matter what. It teaches us about compassion and humanity. This event will sure to be empowering for all who attend.”

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