Graffiti Messages of Hope with Chalk

OKCMOA is excitedly anticipating our summer exhibition POP Power from Warhol to Koons: Masterworks from the Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation, which features the work of Keith Haring, among other Pop and Neo-Pop artists.

Haring was born in Pennsylvania in 1958 and he loved to draw as a child. In 1979, he moved to New York and found an inexpensive way to share his art with many people. He would use chalk to draw on the blank billboards in the subways of New York City. His signature style, inspired by graffiti art, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and other signs and symbols, would eventually occupy hundreds of these blank billboards. He would sometimes complete as many as forty a day!

In 1986, Haring opened his Pop Shop in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. This was a place that everyone could buy art—Haring sold t-shirts and other novelty items created by himself and other artists. He was quoted as saying, “I wanted to continue the same sort of communication as with the subway drawings. I wanted to attract the same wide range of people, and I wanted it to be a place where, yes, not only collectors could come, but also kids from the Bronx.” After Haring’s untimely death in 1990 at the age of 31, his Pop Shop became a place where people could come to remember him.

"You Are Loved" written in chalk on a sidewalk


Let’s get inspired by Keith Haring’s simple solution to sharing his art with others—get out your sidewalk chalk and share messages of hope with your neighbors. Let’s create works of art, large and small, on sidewalks and streets that inspire our neighbors. While we are all practicing social distancing, this can be a way to communicate words and images of inspiration for those around you who might be feeling isolated. Of course, be mindful of laws and regulations and don’t draw on private property. But, consider leaving a message for your neighbor on the street near their driveway. Or, simply draw on your own property so that as others take walks, they see your messages and drawings of hope. Share using #OKCMOAfromhome.

Credit: Keith Haring (American, 1958–1990). Pop Shop II, 1988. Screenprint. 12 x 15 in. (30.5 x 38.1 cm). Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer. © The Keith Haring Foundation.