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Episode 7: “Child’s Play”

July 21, 2010

In Episode 7, the artists visited the Children’s Museum of the Arts, where they used simple materials to create works that said something about their decisions to use art as a tool for self-expression.

The winner: Peregrine’s “Rainbow”

(c) Bravo

The loser: Ryan’s “Drawn Excavations”

(c) Bravo

What did you think about Wednesday’s episode? Post your comments here!

A Q&A with Ryan will be online on Friday!

The ABN Editors share their thoughts here:

Valeria Turturro, ABN Contributing Writer

Sometimes I feel bad for contestants on reality competition shows when they’re assigned a bizarre challenge. But this episode of “Work of Art” was not one of those times. This episode’s challenge was for the contestants to create pieces inspired by the experiences that made them artists. To me, the greater challenge was the materials they could use: only those found in the Children’s Museum of the Arts, which included pipe cleaners, colored pencils, tape and rubber bands, just to name a few.

I just didn’t understand why most of them ended up making things that looked like children made them. And neither did ­­Simon, who on his regular inspection of the artists’ progress said, “So you understood the challenge as drawing like a child?” The challenge wasn’t to replicate a childhood artwork, which Abdi and Ryan didn’t seem to understand right away. Then again, the challenge wasn’t to recreate any artwork, which Miles did. But he got away with that.

"A Complete Roll of Duct Tape Over A 4'x6' Plane, Accompanied by 3 Rubber Band Balls" by Miles (c)Bravo

Peregrine grew up in an urban art commune in San Francisco. I feel like this challenge was practically made just for her. Her experiences in this commune taught her a lot about religion and sexuality and all sorts of life topics. She said her piece was supposed to be this idea of a child at an adults party, which included a papier-mâché unicorn covered in sex ads, candy balls and cigarettes made out of chalk. In some bizarre way, those things made sense together and, to me, really did say quite a bit about her experiences. I agreed with the judges that she deserved the win.

Aside from Peregrine, Nicole and Mark, the contestants had a hard time with this challenge. And for the most part the judges caught that. What stumped me, though, was how Miles got away with a copy of one of his older paintings – a black and white pixilated abstract piece made of black tape and three rubber band balls – without so much as an explanation. Jaclyn, whose piece was similarly abstract and stark, was one of the bottom three, however. It’s ironic that with a challenge that was clearly meant to be personal, Jaclyn, the queen of making things about her, did something different. Maybe the judges missed her self-centric works after all. But I’m sure they’ll be back again in no time.

Kate Stieren, ABN Editor

In this episode, I found that many of the artists took the easy way out by interpreting the challenge literally.  I think the judges were looking for a better work of art than a recreation of a kindergarden noodle project.  You know that there’s a problem when uplifting and always-positive Simon is disappointed.

Watching the artists create using materials with which they kicked off their careers was interesting.  This posed a challenge for the artists to create a masterpiece by utilizing both their child-like supplies and their experienced minds.  I thought Mark’s idea was beyond clever.  He told the story of what shaped him as an artist through a children’s story book.

I can’t say that I didn’t agree with the judges’ decision in this case.  Ryan’s work just wasn’t working for me either.  For a subject as large as “what shaped you as an artist”, Ryan covered little ground.  The captivating aspect was missing this time in his work.  The contestants must know the key to remaining on the show by now, making your work work for them.  Knowing this, it will be interesting to see if any of the artists will begin to tailor their work to the likes of their critics.

Catherine Klene, ABN Editor

This was a great challenge, one of my favorites so far. Artists draw on inspiration from their childhoods at some point in their careers, but asking the artists to use only materials from their childhoods was a great twist. The challenge limited their resources, but not their creativity.

However, it seemed only Peregrine and Nicole understood the challenge. Abdi and Ryan made pieces children would make, and Miles made something only adult, screw-the-rules Miles would make.

Peregrine’s win was long overdue.  After a slip up or two early in the season, she’s been quietly coasting along in the middle of the pack. However, now the pack is thinning out, and she proved she deserved to be there with her table full of twisted tricks and treats. Also, using pieces of chalk to make cigarettes that look like cigarettes?  Brilliant.  Comprehension of the challenge, innovative use of materials, and you made a judge cry. Peregrine, where have you been hiding this season?

This episode taught us something very important.  Listen to Simon, artists!

Ryan and Abdi received essentially the same critique.  Make art inspired by your childhood, not art you made as a child. Abdi saw the wisdom, scrapped his piece, and started fresh.  Granted, he still came close to going home, but the judges spared him.

Ryan’s answer to Simon’s critique was to toss construction paper on the ground.  I don’t think that was what Simon meant. Ryan has artistic skills, but throughout the show, he didn’t really seem to have a firm grasp on his style yet. He’s young, though, with plenty of time to figure out who he is as an artist, and when he does, he’s really going to surprise a lot of people.

As for the others, Nicole’s piece was thoughtful and if Peregrine’s hadn’t been so spectacular, she easily would have taken the win. Mark’s comic book was nice, but nothing to write home about.

Jackie’s “tree” gave no sense of climbing, isolation or escapism. It just looked like a sad Christmas tree branch with pipe cleaner ornaments. And Miles? Miles is very lucky he is the judges’ golden boy, and I’ll just leave it at that.

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