Keith Haring: The Chicago Mural


Saturday, Mar 3 - Sep 23, 2018

  • Exhibitions
  • Location
    Chicago Cultural Center
    Michigan Avenue
    78 E. Washington
    Chicago, IL 60602
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    Sidney R. Yates Gallery, 4th Floor North

    The exhibition features 36 original panels of the monumental mural created in 1989 by internationally-acclaimed artist Keith Haring with the assistance of 500 Chicago Public School students in Chicago's Grant Park. The mural is a reflection of Haring’s incisive draftsmanship and symbolic characters (e.g. radiant baby, barking dog). Presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events in partnership with the Chicago Public Schools, the exhibition will also feature a collection of photographs, correspondence, designs, plans, t-shirt drawings and much more.

    Over five days, May 15–19, 1989, which the City of Chicago declared “Keith Haring Week,” the renowned artist worked with approximately 500 Chicago Public School students from 63 area high schools to paint a monumental mural in his familiar energetic style. The 488-foot long mural, made up of 122 4x8-foot Masonite panels, stretched along the edge of Grant Park at Michigan Ave. between Randolph St. and Madison St. Without any sort of sketch or plan, Haring first painted his signature black outline drawings of figures and symbols. The students were then given five colors – red, orange, sky blue, light green and yellow – and minimal instructions to paint each section in a solid color and adjoining sections in different colors. Many students took creative license and included personal messages, from their own initials to support for their schools, to social messages.

    The project was planned and managed with great dedication by Irving Zucker, a teacher at William H. Wells Community Academy, after meeting Haring at a dinner party in New York. The artist expressed interest in a project with kids in Chicago, and the planning began in 1987 for an innovative arts-in-education program to be developed by the Chicago Public Schools Bureau of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago (MCA).

    For a number of years, these 36 panels resided at Chicago’s Midway Airport.  Following the exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center, the panels will be returned to the Chicago Public Schools for conservation and distribution to select schools. Other panels have already been placed at various schools and other locations throughout the city.