Tim Rollins, teacher and conceptual artist, began instructing special education teenagers in the South Bronx in the early 1980s. He developed an approach where the students, who named themselves K.O.S. (Kids of Survival), produced works of art based upon classic literature.
Challenging traditional teaching models, Rollins discovered that students would mentally engage concepts differently if their hands were also engaged. In the studio classroom, while discussing themes found in literature, students often drew or painted on pages of their books. The students later brought their drawings and ideas together to form collaborative works. Over the course of nearly three decades, they have created artwork based upon such classics as Franz Kafka's Amerika, Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, George Orwell's Animal Farm, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
Tim Rollins + K.O.S. have exhibited extensively worldwide and their work is in prestigious collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., and the Tate Modern in London.
On the Origin of Species (after Darwin) by Tim Rollins + K.O.S. was commissioned by Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species (November 24, 1859) and the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth (February 12, 1809).