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Unbound in Portland

Tim Rollins and K.O.S.

Tim Rollins and K.O.S., 2013, courtesy the artists and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong.


The Kids are Jammin’

by Taryn Plumb

When Tim Rollins arrived in the Bronx as a 26-year-old in the early ‘80s, it was, as he describes, “on fire” — literally, of course, due to the conflagrations that consumed the borough for an entire decade, but also culturally. It was an electric, inspiring and frightening backdrop for what would ultimately become his life’s work.

After growing up in rural Maine and attending the University of Maine in Augusta, he was recruited to “the toughest ghetto in America,” as he described it, to develop a curriculum fusing art, reading and writing for “at risk” youth.

What eventually resulted was the group “Kids of Survival” (K.O.S.), which over time morphed into a traveling workshop that has produced art for prestigious museums and exhibits all over the world. This fall, Tim Rollins and K.O.S. are bringing their unique and inspiring perspective, process and story to the Portland Museum of Art (PMA) in two special ways.

The first: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” — a 13’ x 34’ work acquired by the PMA that will find a permanent home in the museum’s Selma Wolf Black Great Hall — will ultimately serve as a welcome for all visitors as they enter. The second: “Unbound: Tim Rollins and K.O.S.,” a special exhibition composed of works inspired by classic literature, poetry and music.

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