Monday, February 21, 2011

Blog Prompt # 3

In this chapter the author defines the term “mixing” not only to “racial” blending, but to cultural and even esthetic mixtures and collaboration, introducing a full spectrum of contradictory decisions about identity and change (page 151). A good example of this kind of collaboration is with Tim Rollins and the “Kids of Survival (KOS)”. Tim Rollins is a working class white man from Maine and the KOS is under performing students from the Bronx. Tim Rollins began teaching in “Learning to Read Through the Arts”, in this program the students gained more knowledge about art and later showed their own talent. They became very well known and started showing up in downtown galleries. The KOS were kids that were shut down by the educational system and later by society, however because of Tim Rollins they got to express themselves to society and show how they were being affected by racism and discrimination since they were not educated.

If Tim Rollins had not collaborated with these kids they would not have been able to stand up for themselves and get motivated to do more things in life. A quote in the text that the kids said which I thought was very powerful is “We paint about what is, but we also paint about what should be. Some day we’ll be a part of history ourselves, and maybe we’ll be an inspiration for that person to keep on.”(page 169). I thought this was very interesting because they did become a part of history and now they want to inspire other people as well. In my opinion, a collaboration like this can work in today’s world and should!


  1. Tim Rollins and his “Kids of Survival (KOS)” program sends a powerful and promising message to people and kids around the world. What he has done to transform the lives of these children is astonishing. The KOS use art, and “learn to understand history through empathy, by making their marks on it, painting the wounds in Red Badge of Courage, for instance to represent,’ the bad stuff that has happened in our lives-like scars on our memory.”(pg 169) The reason Tim Rollins has been so successful with the KOS program in my eyes is not because of his status as a white male in this white and male dominated world, it’s because he showed compassion and empathy for a group of kids that needed someone to make a difference in their lives. It’s because he “mixed” into the culture, race, and collaborated with these children in order to bring them a better life. When society rejected these poor, young, black and Latino children, Tim Rollins accepted them and transformed the life of these students through art and expression of art.
    Is this type of collaboration possible, of course it is. People all over the country everyday are trying to collaborate with all sorts of groups that are in the position much like the Kids of Survival, and in most cases even worse positions than theirs. The only difference is that these people aren’t published or recognized for their work as Tim Rollins has had the privilege. Graduate students from Universities all over the country work for Teach Across America, a program that places teachers in poor, undeveloped areas, and pays them to teach these students and make a difference in their lives. This type of work involves collaboration and understanding of the term “mixing.” Successful collaborations only function when the group or person involved with a specific situation or group of individual understands the mind set and moral necessary to succeed. One needs an open mind, understanding of the culture, race, class, gender, and situation of the group in order to work with them and collaborate in an educating and rewarding way.

  2. As an up and coming teacher who has had a background that is less than favorable, I can see why Tim Rollins was able to revolutionize the lives of these students. For years art has always been a doorway to emotions and art is the hallway to a new life. I have learned of a few theories regarding the best way students learn versus the unique situations that each student has endured versus how much a student is willing to open up about what they have gone through. As a teacher, Tim Rollins had a duty to these kids, just as all teachers do. We choose to serve those who most need to be served; children. “While the artist’s work with KOS may smack of careerism in some respects, his dedication to reaching kids shut by the educational system (and eventually by society) is not something to be taken lightly” (pg. 169).
    I do believe that this scenario could work in other areas. I think almost any situation where you have venerable children that lack the basic necessity of guidance and the feeling of safety as long as you offer then these things along with a good cause it will be successful. I watched a documentary last semester about social change that reminds me of this situation. The documentary was about the Delancey Street Company in San Francisco, California where they take in people who have drug addictions and help get their lives on track. They give them the basic needs of food, shelter, and support, along with all the confidence possible, they will leave the program with the necessary skills they need to go back out into the workforce and be productive citizens. Similar to KOS, Delancey street target those individuals that are venerable and need one last glimmer of hope to get back on track.