Tim Rollins, born in Pittsfield, Maine in 1955, together with the art collaborative K.O.S (Kids of Survival) formed the art group Tim Rollins + K.O.S. Rollins studied Fine Art at the University of Maine before earning a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1980. While at the School of Visual Arts, Rollins had a seminar from conceptualist artist Joseph Kosuth on the transcendence of language. It was because of this teaching that Rollins wanted to transcend painting with his own.
Rollins started teaching art for middle school students in a South Bronx public school in the early 80s. Shortly thereafter, he launched the “Art and Knowledge Workshop” in the Bronx together with children who called themselves the “Kids of Survival”. The collaborative work took the form of drawings, photographs, sculptural objects and paintings on canvas and paper. Subject matter typically related to literary classics from writers such as; William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and Ralph Ellison, among several others.
The group had its first exhibition at Jay Gorney Modern Art in New York in 1986. It also competed in renowned competitions not long after its creation; two Whitney Biennials (1985 and 1991), Documenta, Kassel, Germany (1987), the Venice Biennale (1988), and the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (1988).
Their work is in the permanent collections of many major museums, including the MoMA, New York; Tate Modern, London; the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York.
Tim Rollins recently passed away in December 2017. The K.O.S has 5 current members and over 50 former members.