Mixed Blessings “Mixing”

Sarah Rose

I believe that the collaboration between Tim Rollins and the Kids of Survival (KOS) worked because they were all fighting for something they believed in. Rollins seemed to care about expressing himself though art and educational equality. He helped found Group Material, where a group of artists created collaborative art, “innocently combining so-called high and low arts, well-known and unknown, trained and untrained artists, ‘originals’ and mass-reproduced images,” (168). This shows his passion for art and I think he wanted to show people how diverse it can be, it also shows he knew the importance of mixing art and working together. He also cared about educating the underprivileged. He worked in “Learning to Read through the Arts” (168) programs and became an art teacher, being a prospective teacher myself; I know most people become teacher to really make a difference in their students’ lives. The KOS I feel have the same goals as Rollins, to educate themselves by reading many different books like, Alice in Wonderland and Moby Dick as well as trying to express themselves, “We have a chance to make a statement, and for people our age, this is a big chance,” (169).  So I feel the alliance of these two groups works because they are working toward a common goal. They all want to better the members of KOS’ education and give them a voice, as well as create art that is inspirational to others. I thinks Rollins’ story in the chapter really sums up mixing, “…cultural and even esthetic mixtures and collaborations, introducing a full spectrum of contradictory decisions about identifying change,” (151). This story explains mixtures of art pieces to create something new, as well as a mixture of culturally diverse people creating the art together. This group is very different but mixing and collaborating their beliefs and ideas to create something inspirational. Perhaps another reason there partnership worked so well was because Rollins and KOS both could relate to each other.  They may have both felt disconnected with their culture or social standing. “…many artists are trying to form a new hybrid cultural identity and to locate themselves therein,” (151). Maybe being outsiders in their own worlds was enough to connect them, despite how different they were from each other. I feel like this type of collaboration could work in any arena, as long as everyone is working toward a common goal. I feel like if this mixing was done more people would be far less ignorant of others and we could become more open and understanding as a society.

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3 Responses to Mixed Blessings “Mixing”

  1. Austin Smith says:

    Sarah mentioned in her opening sentence about how Tim Rollins and Kids of Survival were able to collaborate due to the fact that everyone was fighting for something they believed in. I Believe it is important to emphasis this because this kind of bond effects us even in today’s world. African Americans would not be where they are today if people of all races did not collaborate and start objecting the oppression that was put upon them. This can also coincide with what women have gone through in the last hundred years. If it were not for the women who were “extremist” of their time, women would not have the right to vote or fight for what they believe in. There must be a common interest for something to happen among a mass amount of people. Tim Rollins and Kids of Survival both wanted something to be done.
    The 1980s proved to be significant while I was reading the chapter mixing. Mixing was refered to as the cultural differences coming together. Results of these unique emergences were exemplified through graffiti, rap music, and sampling. Graffiti has a uneasy taste in the minds of most because they believe it is strictly representation of gangs, killings, and other violence. Graffiti is sometimes misconstrued because it is originally an expression of an artist’s feelings and mind set. Rap music was certainly not what it is portrayed to be as is today. Rap music today represents sex, violence, and vulgar in the minds of parents. Originally it had a deeper meaning that was mostly used as resistance art. It allowed the artist to show the oppression that they are dealing with and try to get the word out so it can be changed for the better.
    These are examples of cultural mixings. When people come together from different backgrounds and different reasons they begin to put their ideas together in all new constructive ways. It is truly remarkable how people so different can collaborate and construct things that are so amazing and different. It is important to not only know the art that you are viewing, but to analyze and understand its background and how it became. Mixing is a vital part to the production of resistance art.

  2. Much like Sarah Rose and Austin stated in their response to “Mixing” about how Tim Rollins and Kids of Survival worked together to fight for what they believe in, I also strongly believe that they were able to achieve such success because both Tim Rollins and the people of color were equally eager to collaborate and work together. I also believe that such collaborations could definitely work today in other areas, both in and out of the world of art. I believe such collaborations would be successful because not only would both sides be working towards a specific goal or outcome, but with two (or perhaps more) groups working to collaborate, the different groups all combine to make an even larger group, therefore, bringing to life the saying, “strength in numbers”.

    A great example that I can think of would be people coming together for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. People and groups of people of all different cultures, ethnicities, backgrounds, and places come together for a common cause, to help find a cure for breast cancer. Although these people may not share the same political, religious, or any other beliefs, they share a common belief and come together to help accomplish their goal. Just as Sarah Rose said in her post, if more mixing and collaboration was done, I agree that people would be far less ignorant of others and as a result of collaboration and working together towards a common goal, people would be much more accepting.

    Also, in response to what Austin has said about rap music and how it originated as a form of resistance art, I also connect music with the idea of “mixing” because nearly every genre of music we listen to today or have listened to in the past was created through a mixing of culture and styles. I am actually taking a history class about popular music in the U.S. and I have found that it often connects with what we are learning in our class in terms of a mixing of cultures, and also how music is a form of art that people use to express themselves, which, as we have learned can be viewed as both negative and positive. Interestingly (and I apologize because this is slightly off topic), the video that we watched about minstrels, “Ethnic Notations” was also used in my history class to teach us about Minstrels and Vaudeville and how racial tensions played a major role in popular music at that time.

  3. Lacey DeAngelis says:

    In chapter four of Mixed Blessings, the author Lucy Lippard discusses mixing as “the central metaphor, the active social component of the intercultural process.” (p.151) Mixing applies to blending of races, cultures, esthetic mixtures and finally collaborations to help question people decisions about identity and change. Like Sarah and Austin have both mentioned, when people collaborate within and outside of the art world, they usually have a common goal or belief they are fighting for. A good example of an interracial collaboration to reach a common goal is Tim Rollins’ and his “Kids of Survival” (KOS). Tim Rollin’s is a white working class male from Maine who has started art programs, such as KOS, for colored disadvantaged teenagers with learning-disabilities and emotionally handicapped within South Bronx, Brooklyn, and Harlem in New York. I believe that this collaboration works well because Rollin’s reaches out to the teenagers he works with, having the students read books, comics, daily newspapers, etc. and incorporating ideas from the readings into collaborative artworks that link their environments and lives. Rollin believes that art should be a social and contextual experience, therefore in his programs; students express themselves while working together on a common goal or belief to find their own identities. Many of the students would be discouraged within the normal schooling environment, because they are seen as “outsiders”, but within this program the students are getting the special one on one attention that these special education students need. I do believe that collaborations similar to the Kids of Survival and Tim Rollin’s artworks could work today in other arenas as long as enough people have the same similar beliefs or goals about identity. The book Mixed Blessings states that, “In the early 80’s, collaboration itself became a political statement…” (p.166) For example, a modern day political collaboration that people come together to share their beliefs and goals is the rights for gay marriage that many states, including Virginia ban. Mixing between races, cultures, esthetic mixtures, and collaboration are all ways to help society reach the goal of a “rainbow future”, meaning that everybody is part of a “mixed race.” (p. 151)

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