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Episode 9: “Natural Talents”

August 6, 2010

In episode 9, the remaining five artists left bustling New York City to the quiet refuge of a nature preserve. They drew inspiration from their surroundings–exploring the landscape and gathering natural materials to incorporate into their piece.

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

The ABN editors share their thoughts here:

Marylyn Simpson, Contributing Editor


Departing from their usual urbane inspirations, the remaining five Work of Art contestants really showcased their talents in the latest episode. Whether their attempts were futile or nothing short of a masterpiece, the varying results were some of the best since the show’s beginning.

While Nicole’s piece “Mic Mac” failed to deliver any sort of cohesive design, which ultimately cost her spot in the finale, Jaclyn, who had met a similar fate, created a piece prophetically titled “The End.” In the end, the judges thought the piece was heavy and lacked a natural, organic feel. While I did agree with the judges opinion of Nicole’s piece (although I commend Nicole attempts of honoring her Native American roots) I think that Jaclyn’s piece had a sense of harmony and balance about it. The gold rock balanced on a single metal bar was eye-catching while the faded photograph immediately drew me in and left me wanting to see more; maybe where the photo’s horizon lead or to see how far that stretch of ocean could reach.

Still, I wasn’t shocked to see Jaclyn go, but I was surprised to see Nicole, one of the strongest Work of Art Contestants, get voted off over Peregrine. Miles and Abdi seemed like top spot shoe-ins, almost from the beginning. Miles, the judge’s favorite artist and Abdi, the artist to exhibit the most natural talent, will definitely make for a suspenseful finale.

Abdi’s “Baptism” piece from episode 9 was unbelievably raw. It seemed to levitate off the canvas; the piece had a realistic, yet ethereal element to it, and to nobody’s surprise he won’t he challenge. Miles piece may not have been his best work ever, but he successfully managed to bring a little bit of his inner mania into his nature-inspired piece, giving him a spot in the finale.

Peregrine, who has been a strong contestant the last few weeks, is a very talented artist, but I think I have failed to connect with her work since the beginning. I would love to see her take a new direction with her work, maybe something uber-modern or ultra-traditional, baroque even? It will be interesting to see who comes out on top in the finale, but like the adage goes, only time will tell.

Catherine Klene, ABN Contributing Editor

Two out of three ain’t bad.

Abdi deserved the win and to make it to the finale. His piece was a wonderful example of the challenge.  He took the inspiration from nature, completely integrated his natural element, and managed to produce a work that stunned the viewer.

Even if you didn’t like yet another self-portrait (This show seems to be full of them.) or the idea behind it, Abdi’s “Baptism” was a beautiful example of solid technique.  The shading and detail achieved with ground up gravel and pigment was masterful.  The unofficial challenge this week was to show why the artist deserved to be in the finale, and Abdi answered with a moving self-portrait that impressed on many different levels.

Miles… Again, no surprise here.  It was evident fairly early on in the competition that he was the judges’ golden boy, and even when he slipped up once or twice, I never thought he was in danger of going home.   His piece, “Fungus Study Vol. 1 #1,” left me perplexed.  I saw the piece of fungus on the wall.  I saw the mat, the two printed pieces on the wall and the large, wooden device reminiscent of medieval torture, but I didn’t see a work of art.  To me, it looked like a hodgepodge of beige with a piece of decaying log.

Still, I’m not an expert, nor am I Jerry Saltz or any of the other judges who were clearly in love with this piece.  Miles’ work may not be to my taste, but he did make it to the finale, so bravo for him.  My issue with Miles stems from how he plays the game.  It seems strange that nearly every artist who is kicked off the show never seems to have much nice to say about Miles in the last two minutes of the episode as they pack their bags. I can understand one or two disgruntled competitors, but this many?

The real surprise this episode was Peregrine’s victory over Nicole. I realize this could just be clever editing, but the judges did not seem to love Peregrine’s sex tree as much as Nicole’s small glowing sculpture.  While more abstract, I thought Nicole’s “Mic Mac,” offered a much better story and seemed much more inspired by the nature itself.

Peregrine’s “Golden Gate” had shock and comedic appeal, but it did not connect with the viewer on an emotional level.  Still, Peregrine has produced consistently solid work, and it’s nice to see someone who sticks to the rules (and makes sure others do, too) get the chance to shine in the finale.

Jaclyn did not seem to be with it this episode, and unfortunately, this is the one she needed to give it her all.  During her critique session with Simon, the audience and the mentor could tell she had burnt out.  Even when she defended her piece, she seemed half-hearted, as if the show had taken its toll on her.  It was no surprise she was sent home, but considering how exhausted she was, I’m not sure she could have made it through the finale.

On to the finale episode, then.  Personally, I hope Abdi takes the win, as he has shown solid improvement and real talent from start to finish.  We’ll see on Thursday!

One Comment leave one →
  1. David Lantrip permalink
    August 6, 2010 10:24 am

    I’m really surprised at how some of the artists have gone through the show without breaking out of their shells. It’s good to have a point of view, but to do the same thing every week would have gotten them thrown off any other “creative” show and dismissed as a “one-trick pony” or “one-note.” Miles every week plays the tortured artist seeking peace and Jaclyn exposes herself. Both are very tiresome and Miles especially has shown himself to be a manipulative pervy creep the last couple episodes.

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