Warehouse Gallery presents ‘King and Courage,’ works by Tim Rollins and K.O.S.
Warehouse Gallery presents ‘King and Courage,’ works by Tim Rollins and K.O.S.February 06, 2008SU News ServicesSUnews@syr.edu
The Warehouse Gallery is presenting “King and Courage,” a selection of paintings, drawings and a video projection by Tim Rollins + K.O.S. The exhibition opens Feb. 19 and runs trough April 5. Rollins will present a talk in the gallery on Feb. 21 from 3:30-5 p.m. The talk is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception in the gallery from 5-8 p.m.
Working in their trademark collaborative style, Rollins and K.O.S present previous work along with new pieces produced specifically for the exhibition in a master class with students from Fowler and Nottingham high schools in Syracuse, held in early February. The work in the exhibition is inspired by the speeches of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and “The Red Badge of Courage” by Stephen Crane.
Since the early 1980s, Rollins and K.O.S. have engaged in a process of creative collaboration where change and chance are the rewards for embracing the connection between art, literature, religion and politics. While teaching at Intermediate School #52 in the South Bronx in 1984, Rollins started an after-school art and literacy program for students the school deemed unteachable. Bringing together diverse elements of his background and personal experience from the structure of choir practices in the Baptist Church in which he still participates, to the free-thinking challenges to authority embodied in the artist collective Group Material that he co-founded, Rollins approached teaching as a process of drawing out ideas in an engaged, yet disciplined approach.
Rollins refused to patronize his students and instead encouraged them to explore classical literature and connect the content to their own experience. During one exercise, Rollins instructed his students to make spontaneous drawings while he read aloud from George Orwell’s book “1984.” One of the students misunderstood the instructions and began to draw directly onto the pages of his copy of the book. This accident excited the rest of the class, opened up creative possibilities, and literally drew the students into the text with an enthusiasm that previously seemed impossible.
The students in the class soon named themselves K.O.S. for Kids of Survival, to acknowledge the skills they had acquired. The link between literature and art has remained a constant for Rollins and K.O.S. as the group has changed and evolved over the years. Many members of K.O.S. have gone on to pursue studies in fine arts and education, while others continue to participate in the ongoing activities and creation of new work in their New York studio and at workshops and master classes around the world.
During the collaborative process of creating new work in master classes, Rollins provides inspiration, structure and enthusiasm. While listening to readings of selected literature or historic readings, class participants are instructed to begin drawing intuitively. As members are challenged with questions like whether or not there is a color that represents humanity, the obvious, and often cliched, drawings move toward more abstract and mysterious forms. In one class, this process produced the triangular form and blood red color that formed the painting “I See the Promised Land,” representing King’s spiritual belief that life is a great triangle with depth, breadth and transcendent light.
Rollins studied fine art at the University of Maine, and earned a B.F.A. degree at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. After graduate studies in art education and philosophy at New York University, Rollins began teaching art for special education middle school students in a South Bronx public school.