After seeing the Tim Rollins and K.O.S. exhibit at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, and seeing him speak there, I have noticed a difference in the way that I approach my programming with youth and how Rollins does. I still admire what he does and think that he is successful at it. The work that he and his students make is beautiful, the grown up young people he has worked with are successful and seem to be doing well, their artwork is housed in museum collections around the world, and I do think that it is right to honor all of these accomplishments.

There is something in the way that Rollins interacts with those that he works with however, that makes me feel that he still relies on the authoritative role of teacher to get the job done. I saw it in footage in the show and in his talk, he was listed as speaking with Angel Abreu, a former K.O.S. student and from this, I expected a conversation between the two of them. Instead, Rollins gave a preacher-like performance about the history of K.O.S. and Abreu showed work of adult members. There was some question and answer at the end, but I did not feel that it ever really reached a point of dialogue. Rollins also states in interviews that what he gets from his young people is already there and that he just pulls it out of them. I agree that everything good that comes from people, they already have within themselves, and it becomes a matter of setting up circumstances that allow them to let it out, but the pulling Rollins speaks of sounds more like going to the dentist than about allowing something to grow and blossom from within.

Rollins' focus on schooling also perplexes me. School doesn't often offer young people what they need to thrive, but Rollins insists that they go or they cannot participate in his programs. I do understand the need for young people, especially those that are expected not to, to graduate from high school and go to college so that they can become a part of the system in order to change it for the better. Students must be critical thinkers to do this or they will be swept into the elitist mentality of higher education. This elitist mentality stems at least partially from the idea of individuality and that a person will succeed based on their own merit. I see this individual thinking in some of the footage of Rollins and K.O.S. The rules are: no drugs, no babies, go to school. Anyone who does not follow these is out. People make bad decision sometimes, what of the young people who have made bad decisions? They are out automatically? Will this make the young people who are in and make it into the museums and colleges feel that they are better than their peers who have not? That is the problem I see. Being an educator and a resource, one has to remember that young people need to have the freedom to make mistakes and especially when they have made mistakes need the support of adults and society. They do not need to be judged or cast out, but rather circumstances changed so that even though they have acted mistakenly, what they have inside still has the opportunity to bloom.

I know that Rollins has done this for students, but how can we do it for more, and not only for those that have been lucky enough to choose wisely?