Hold These Truths

November 13, 2017 - March 14, 2018

Southeast Queens Biennial

February 9 - April 21, 2018

Tim Rollins and KOS

In 1984, Tim Rollins founded Kids of Survival (K.O.S.), an experimental Bronx-based teacher-student program in which students relate their personal experiences to studies of literature, politics and history, and produce allegorical paintings, sculpture and drawings. As such, storytelling is central to the work of this collaborative group. In the 2012 mixed-media painting series Invisible Man (after Ralph Ellison), the capital letters “IM” are boldly rendered atop pages from the titular novel. The shorthand “IM” extends beyond literary reference, parsing themes of oppression, political declaration, and revolutionary action. The initials interconnect victim and man to the civil rights movement, referencing Ernest Withers’ iconic photograph of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, who held placards declaring “I am a man.” More personally, the “IM” responds to the murder of a fellow student in the early 1990s and a New York Times headline reading “Murder Victim.” 

Invisible Man (after Ralph Ellison), 2012
Matte acrylic and book pages on canvas
24 x 24 in.
Courtesy the Artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong
Photo: Elisabeth Bernstein