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Tim Rollins, K.O.S. (Kids of Survival) with Angel Abreu, Jose Burges, Robert Delgado, George Garces, Richard Lulo, Nelson Montes, José Parissi, Carlos Rivera, Annette Rosado, Nelson Ricardo Savinon. Amerika VIII. 1986-87 10

Watercolor, charcoal, and pencil on bookpages on linen, 69 1/8" x 14' (175.6 x 426.7 cm). Jerry I. Speyer Fund and Robert and Meryl Meltzer Fund. © 2024 Tim Rollins and K.O.S.

Narrator: An artist and teacher named Tim Rollins made this painting with his students. Here’s one of them, Angel Abreu:

Artist, Angel Abreu: We were kind of like an art gang. K.O.S.—Kids of Survival—that was the name. This was actually one of the first works that I worked on as a 13 year old, which is pretty amazing.

Narrator: Tim and K.O.S. started this work by reading a book called Amerika. Its pages form the background of this painting. The book is about a man who moves to the United States but doesn’t feel accepted. His life changes when he joins a group of artists. Here’s another K.O.S artist, Rick Savinon.

Artist, Rick Savinon: I think Tim found that chapter so interesting because it gives the notion that everyone can be an artist.

Narrator: The man is welcomed into the group of artists by people playing golden horns, which became an important symbol for K.O.S.

Artist, Rick Savinon: And so, Tim would tell us if you wanted to represent yourself what does your horn look like?

We had these jam sessions where we just, like, try to blow each other out the water and see who’d had the best horns. Some members would draw fifty to a hundred horns, but only maybe two would go into the painting.

Narrator: How many horns can you find? Pick your favorite and imagine what sound it might make!