Angel Abreu at The Paris Review:
In 1986, at the age of twelve, I joined Tim Rollins and Kids of Survival. I first met Tim as a seventh grader at the Intermediate School 52 where he was teaching at the time. Tim had only intended to stay at the school for a few weeks. The students had made charcoal drawings on the ceiling of the classroom, and the walls were covered in graffiti. Tim often described the art room as the “Hip-Hop Sistine Chapel.” He was convinced that there was a profound reason he was there.
Timothy William Rollins was born in 1955 in a small town in central Maine. Similar to the South Bronx, Pittsfield was economically downtrodden and its youth struggled against the pitfalls of low expectations. Tim was extremely motivated and precocious. He was a gifted artist, an avid reader, and an amateur scholar of Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King’s writings and speeches, combined with Tim’s Sunday school teaching, would form the basis of his pedagogical philosophy with K.O.S. Tim earned his BFA from SVA in 1977 and after graduate studies at New York University, in art education and philosophy, he began teaching in the New York City public school system. In 1982, Tim stepped off the 2 train at Prospect Ave in the South Bronx for the first time.