Tim Rollins studied fine art at the University of Maine and earned a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York (1975–77). After graduate studies in art education and philosophy at New York University (1977 and 1979), Rollins began teaching art for middle school students in a South Bronx public school. In 1984, he launched the "Art and Knowledge Workshop" in the Bronx together with a group of at-risk students who called themselves K.O.S. (Kids of Survival).
Since the founding of the Art & Knowledge Workshop in 1982, Tim Rollins & K.O.S. have produced allegorical paintings, sculptures and drawings by mining the vast wealth of printed matter - from the popular to the arcane, from the minor to the canonical, from legal documents to comic books (areas in no way mutually exclusive in Rollins & K.O.S.’s view) - which are themselves understood as political allegories.
The group has exhibited worldwide having participated in two Whitney Biennials (1985, 1991), Documenta (1987), the Venice Biennale (1988), the Carnegie International (1988) and in solo exhibitions at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN (1988); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA (1988); Dia Art Foundation, New York, NY (1989); Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT (1990); Museum für Gegenwärtskunst Basel, Switzerland (1990); Museum of Contemporary Art, LA (1990); and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (1992). Their work can be seen in public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, NY, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Tate Gallery, London. In February 2009, a retrospective survey of the groups' work opened at The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.
The current members of K.O.S. include:
Angel Abreu (born 1974), Jorge Abreu (born 1979), Robert Branch (born 1977), Ala Ebtekar (born 1978), Ricardo Nelson Savinon (born 1971, Noe Sosa (born 1992), Logan Swedick (born 1995)