Former Bronx Artist and Student Make History - Again -At the Frye
Tim Rollins and K.O.S.: A History, a major museum retrospective of work by Rollins—an artist, activist and teacher—and a group of his former South Bronx middle school students, K.O.S. (Kids of Survival), will be presented at the Frye Art Museum from Jan. 23 to May 31, 2010.
The exhibition surveys 25 years of work produced by Rollins and K.O.S., a group of artists that emerged from Rollins’ classes at Intermediate School 52 in New York. Working in a unique process they termed “jammin’,” Rollins or one of the students would read aloud from selected texts, such as Franz Kafka’s Amerika, Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, while the student-artists responded by creating paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures, relating the texts to their own experiences. The pages of the books were cut, pasted or enlarged to create a grid on canvas and the students’ work was incorporated onto the grid.
Artworks created by Rollins and K.O.S. in their unique collaborations between 1984 and 2000 are presented at the Frye in an exhibition curated by Ian Berry, Malloy Curator at The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, in collaboration with the artists. In 1981, Tim Rollins, then 26, was hired to develop a curriculum for Intermediate School 52 in the South Bronx that incorporated art-making with reading and writing lessons for students who had been classified as academically or emotionally “at risk.” Rollins told his students on that first day, “Today we are going to make art, but we are also going to make history.” As Rollins later explained, “To dare to make history when you are young, when you are a minority, when you are working, or non-working class, when you are voiceless in society takes courage.”
It wasn’t long before Rollins became frustrated with the strictures of the public school system, and opened the Art and Knowledge Workshop, an after-school program in an abandoned school building nearby. After teaching all day at I.S. 52, Rollins would meet K.O.S. members at the workshop, where they would work on homework and art. In 1987, Rollins and K.O.S. began spreading their ideas beyond the South Bronx, using a traveling workshop format. The group soon began exhibiting work as “Tim Rollins and 15 kids from the South Bronx” or “Twenty Kids from the South Bronx with Tim Rollins;” and then, from 1985 on, as “Tim Rollins and Kids of Survival.”
One of the many early admirers was New York Times art critic Roberta Smith, who wrote in late 1986: “With Rollins’s guidance, these students are producing artwork of a remarkable sophistication, which refuses to conform to known categories but alternates between the literary and the visual, the modern and the naïve.” Between the mid-1980s and early-1990s, Rollins and K.O.S. participated in two Whitney Biennials (1985, 1991), Documenta (1987), the Venice Biennale (1988) and the Carnegie International (1988), and had solo shows at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1988); Museum für Gegenwärtskunst, Basel, Switz. (1990); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1990); and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington (1992).
In 1994, after moving to a studio in Chelsea, Rollins and K.O.S. retooled and expanded the project nationally and internationally, significantly increasing the number of workshops conducted with other schools and arts institutions. Today, K.O.S. members are active in Philadelphia, Memphis, San Francisco, and New York.
An Emmy award-winning documentary film on Tim Rollins and K.O.S. will screen Sunday, February 21 at 2 pm in the Frye Art Museum Auditorium and Saturday, March 6 at 2 pm in the Seattle Public Library Central Library Microsoft Auditorium.
ALL ASSOCIATED PROGRAMS:
AUDITORIUM LECTURE: Tim Rollins and K.O.S.: A History ?Ian Berry, exhibition curator and Malloy Curator, Tang Museum, Skidmore College ?Saturday, January 23, 2 pm
Curator Ian Berry discusses organizing Tim Rollins and K.O.S.: A History, a major museum retrospective of work by artist, activist, and teacher Tim Rollins and K.O.S. (Kids of Survival), a group of artists originally made up of Rollins’s students from Intermediate School 52 in the South Bronx.
FILM: The Movie Mashup: Wild Literary Adaptations (lecture with film clips) ?Curated and hosted by film critic Robert Horton ?Sunday, January 24, 2 pm
Robert Horton discusses literary transformations including Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books (based on The Tempest), the Coens’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? (based on The Odyssey), and the Jonze-Kaufman Adaptation.
GALLERY TALK: Tim Rollins and K.O.S.: A History ?Robin Held, Frye Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Collections ?Saturday, February 20, 2 pm
An informal tour and conversation in the exhibition galleries.
FILM: Kids of Survival (film screening) ?Hosted by film critic Robert Horton ?Sunday, February 21, 2 pm
ENCORE SCREENING: Kids of Survival ?Sunday, March 6, 2 pm ?Seattle Central Library, Microsoft Auditorium, 1000 Fourth Avenue
Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine’s Emmy-award winning 1996 documentary of how Tim Rollins developed his tough-love methods of creating art with a group of young people from the South Bronx. (DVD projection; 87 minutes.)
AUDITORIUM LECTURE: A Conversation: Tim Rollins and Angel Abreu ?Tim Rollins, artist/educator, and Angel Abreu, K.O.S. artist ?Thursday, March 18, 7 pm
The collective art practice that developed between teaching artist Tim Rollins and his students is discussed in this onstage conversation between Rollins and Angel Abreu, a K.O.S. artist who first worked with Rollins in 1988 at age eleven. Rollins and Abreu offer insights into their collaborative strategy that combined reading literary texts with the production of works of art, and reflect on the impact of the collaboration on their lives and art today.
FILM: Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary (film screening) ?Hosted by film critic Robert Horton ?Sunday, March 21, 2 pm
Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin concocted his 2002 Dracula adaptation using silent film techniques, postmodern zaniness, and Royal Winnipeg Ballet dancers. (DVD projection; 75 minutes.)
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue entitled Tim Rollins and K.O.S.: A History, available in the Museum Store. It offers an in-depth look at the paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures that comprise the most important series made by the group. Co-published by the Tang and the MIT Press, and edited by Tang Curator Ian Berry, the catalogue includes new photographs of Rollins/K.O.S. work; exhaustive biographic information for Rollins and all K.O.S. members and the team’s first fully researched bibliography and exhibition history. Essays by James Romaine, Julie Ault, Susan Cahan, David Deitcher, Eleanor Heartney and Larry Rinder are included, as well as a selection of writings by Martin Luther King, Jr.—a key source for Rollins as he formed his early practice.
Tim Rollins and K.O.S.: A History will be presented at the Frye Art Museum concurrently with The Seattle Project, a series of collaborative exhibitions that showcase some of Seattle’s most innovative community programs and celebrates the Frye Art Museum’s 58 year old commitment to community outreach and art education.
Tim Rollins and K.O.S.: A History is curated by Ian Berry, Malloy Curator at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, in collaboration with the artists, and is coordinated for the Frye Art Museum by Robin Held, Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Collections. Presentation of the exhibition at the Frye Art Museum is made possible by funding from the Frye Foundation and the generous support of the Offield Family Foundation.
The exhibition was presented at the Tang Museum and Art Gallery from February 28 to August 23, 2009 and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia from September 10 to December 13, 2009.
The Frye Art Museum is a living legacy of visionary patronage and civic responsibility, committed to artistic inquiry and a rich visitor experience. A catalyst for our engagement with contemporary art and artists is the Founding Collection of Charles and Emma Frye, access to which shall always be free.
The Frye Art Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums.