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In the margins 

Artists Tim Rollins and Angel Abreu talk about the importance of art for everyone.


In 1981, young art educator Tim Rollins was assigned to a classroom in South Bronx, New York, where he began art collaborations between marginalized youth and literary classics. The collective, Kids of Survival, has been active for the last 30 years. On Thursday at The Khyber and on Friday at NSCAD, Rollins will talk about this fascinating legacy. He'll be joined by long-time KOS member Angel Abreu.

Initially, Rollins read to students from classic literature as they created art in tandem, which closed the gaps between literacy, class and fine art while it empowered impoverished youth as emerging artists. "I started working with Tim and KOS when I was 12 and can honestly say that I believed in the project from my very first day, even though I may not have been aware of the macro scope of the collaboration until I was older," says Abreu, now a senior professor at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

"I always felt like an outsider, marginalized. Working with KOS made me realize the importance of celebrating differences. This is the ultimate task of an artist," says Abreu. KOS has taken the form of many projects but the goal has always been to eliminate the social constructs that prohibit art education.

"It's difficult for me to draw the line between visual art and literacy as they are incredibly intertwined in how we approach the creation of art," says Abreu, who takes the KOS vision into his own work and continued mentorships with youth. "But we used that symbiotic relationship between the two to bring down socially manifested walls. We used books that were supposedly not meant for us and imposed ourselves into an art world that had never invited us. The great philosopher W.E.B DuBois once said, 'I sit next to Shakespeare and he winces not.' We used this quote as a motto for transcendence."

Tim Rollins and Angel Abreu
Friday, February 27, 7pm
Bell Auditorium, 5163 Duke Street, free

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