Virtual Sunday Family Arts

Symbols and Street Art: An Art Lesson Inspired by the Street Art of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring


Image: Activity example courtesy Austin Kwidzinski.

In this installment of Virtual Sunday Family Arts, The Reach invites you to join us for a live art making session with instructor Austin Kwidzinski!

When you walk down the street, what do you see that could be art? Street art or graffiti incorporates shapes, text, and symbols in public spaces.

This lesson will focus on street art made by famous American artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Both artists started off tagging public spaces in New York City, and later they showed their artwork in galleries. Despite where or how they shared their art with the world – either on the walls of a subway station or in a gallery – both Basquiat and Haring became known for their use of personal symbols and text.

In this virtual workshop, participants will experiment with symbols, text, colour, and line to create their own signature street art-inspired style that pops out of the page!

This 30 minute virtual session was streamed through Facebook Live on Sunday, October 4 at 1:30pm and is now archived on YouTube.

Watch It Here

The activity is for ages 8 and up and is most fun when working in pairs or groups. Younger children should work together with adults or older children.

Left image: Jean-Michel Basquiat. 1984. Photo by Andy Warhol.

Right image: Jean-Michel Basquiat. Untitled. 1982. Acrylic, oilstick, and xerox on wood. 48” x 30”.


Jean-Michel Basquiat & Keith Haring

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) was an African American artist known for popularizing his graffiti style in New York City galleries in the 1980s. Basquiat’s celebrated style incorporates crowns, human anatomy, and words as well as references to his Haitian and Puerto Rican heritage, pop culture, and racial politics.

American artist Keith Haring (1958-1990) is famous for his minimalist lines and symbolic characters like “radiant baby” and “barking dog” that can be found on the walls of city streets. In the early 1980s, Haring created street art by drawing with chalk on unused black advertising panels in New York City subways. By 1989, Haring had exhibited his work in galleries around the world and he was commissioned by the City of Chicago to work with a group of 500 public schools students to create The Chicago Mural.

Left image: Keith Haring in New York City subway, New York. 1984. Photo by Tseng Kwong Chi.

Right image: Keith Haring. The Chicaogo Mural. 1989. Photo of art installation installed at the Chicago Cultural Centre. Photo by Marcelino Y. Fahd.


Instructions for setting up your at-home art making station before the class begins:

  1. Prepare you workspace by setting out your materials.
  2. Place your computer in front of your workstation so you can follow along as Austin teaches the class.
  3. Tune into Facebook Live on October 4 at 1:30pm, by visiting For instructions on how to watch Facebook Live Videos, click here:



Share your creation with your social media following. Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram (@thereachgallery) and Twitter (@TheReach) and use the hashtag #TheReachAtHome.


We’ve designed this activity with a range of fun artmaking materials. If you plan on purchasing materials in advance, some art and craft stores offer curbside pickup for items (e.g., Dollarama, House of Fine Arts or Michaels in Abbotsford).

Materials needed per participant:

  1. Water
  2. Paintbrush
  3. Art palette (or another surface for mixing paints)
  4. Black paper (e.g., 1 sheet of 8.5” x 11”)
  5. Chalk (preferably chalk pastels)
  6. Optional: black and white acrylic paint