In the early ’80s, Rollins began to encourage his students to read through the exploration and making of art. A group of them eventually become known as the Kids of Survival (K.O.S.). Already tracked into special education programs, and written off by the school system, the Kids of Survival challenged the status quo, and, working with Rollins, created new possibilities and a new cultural and social currency for themselves – defiantly proclaiming “this is our revenge.”
During our walk-through of the exhibition with Tom, Angel, and Ian, we talked about the significance of creating structures where there can be no failure – starting from scratch – including K.O.S. making their own paint. The biggest tool an artist has in the studio, as Tim put it, is the garbage can.
We learned about the various metaphors in K.O.S.’ work – the collaborative process being like a pick-up basketball game – The Tang’s role as teaching museum and its focus on unique artist stories that have yet to be told, and Ian’s perspective and role as the curator.
When I started my first SPARK BklynArts after-school mural project, I thought about how and why people come to art, and very specifically, about Tim Rollins and the Kids of Survival whose work with marginalized kids, was inspiring. Imagine then, how super-pleased I was to discover that K.O.S. members are still actively involved with each other, collaborating on new work.
It made me think of Monique, Tashonna, and Tineal – who just yesterday returned to the fold, signing up as cre8tive YouTH*ink interns, giggling endlessly over the possibilities with me, as we plotted our next adventure. Maybe we’re on to something!
All photos by Mista Oh! – courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery
One Love – Mista Oh!