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Exit Interview: ABN Chats with Nicole

August 6, 2010


The five remaining contestants ventured into the wilderness on Wednesday’s episode aptly titled “Natural Talents,” where the gang was charged with drawing inspiration from their surroundings and incorporating elements from the woods into their pieces.

The judges never connected with Nicole’s “Mic Mac” piece (check out this un-aired video with more insight into the piece) and voted her and Jaclyn off the show, setting up the finale with Abdi, Miles and Peregrine.

In this Q&A, Nicole defends her highly personal piece, talks about her vacation in Italy where she will have dinner with a former “WOA” contestant, and shares just a morsel of information about her friendship with Miles.

ABN: Do you think stepping outside of the box and experimenting with your piece caused you more harm than help with the judges?
Nicole: “I never really did each challenge for the judges. I made work more for myself. This particular one, I was experimenting more with materials. There were a lot of personal things that were surfacing while I was making it. The judges might not have related to it but there were a lot of different relationships going on for me with making it.”

ABN: Do you feel like your work successfully incorporated nature?
Nicole: “Yeah, I mean one part that wasn’t the Native American aspect to it was more of an undercurrent, even though it was the title. The biggest part of my piece was within the form. I think the subtlety and small things in nature are the most powerful, and seeds specifically. Without seeds, we wouldn’t really survive or exist. Within acorns and different seeds, [when they die], they give life. I find that very poetic and I wanted to use that as the form. A lot of my relationship with nature is a spiritual one.”


ABN: What did you think about the judges’ response to your piece? You seemed pleased with your piece.
Nicole: “I was pleased with what I made for myself. I executed the challenge to the best possible way I could. I could have done a hundred different things because nature is a big theme. It definitely shows on a lot of the works I’ve done in the past as well as on the show. During the crit, I was definitely kind of taken back by some of the critique. I was really excited that Michele Oka Doner was there. I think that the way that it all turned out is perfect for me. I would have liked to be in the final three, but I think that all three artists that are there right now are super-talented.”

ABN: Why do you say it was perfect for you? Did it inspire you to do something else or is that why you are in Italy? Could you expand on that a little?
Nicole: “It’s like this art game show I kind of went on to do an experiment and to try something new and to play with the control within the framework of reality television and to also have fun. I did every single challenge and it opened up some different doorways and different thinking for me. Right now I have so many fun and different projects coming out and also that I’ve been working on. It’s just great to get back to your studio and push out work. It’s really great. I think it was just the perfect amount of time. [Laughs]. I don’t know if you could tell but I was really exhausted by the end of it.”

ABN: Are you actually working in Italy or there for a vacation?
“I’m just here having a vacation. It’s nice to take a break. I’m going to Parma and I went to this opera in Verona. It’s just nice to chill out for a minute and treat yourself.

“I actually ran into Trong in Florence. It was really funny. We took a picture. I was like ‘this is so weird’. I think we’re having dinner Friday night at this house that I’m staying at. I’m having him over for dinner.”

ABN: You said there that were a hundred different ways you could have done your piece, but would you have actually done anything differently if you had a chance to do it differently?
“I wouldn’t of changed what I made. I’m not the type of person to be like ‘I shoulda, coulda, woulda.’ At the time, for that moment, with the materials and what I was doing, that was the piece that I made. I wouldn’t change it. Outside of it, it’s endless. The possibilities are so endless it’s almost overwhelming.”


ABN: Peregrine seemed surprised when the judges said you were going home. While you and Peregrine were in the hot seat, who did you think was going home?
“I actually don’t know. Throughout this whole competition I was surprised by people that stayed and people that left. You really have no idea. We’re both friends. We’re just like whoever wins, good for you. For me the whole thing was positive. It’s just like one experiment out of many that I’m doing.”

ABN: You said something about being on the show re-inspiring you as an artist? Do feel like this has held true since leaving the show? In what ways?
“What I was talking about was everybody kind of gets in these lulls where you’re just like I don’t even want to look at work. It’s like you get in these ruts. Right before I was on the show, I was in a rut for like three months. I was making things but I just couldn’t get myself to make … It was just so frustrating because I’m such a productive person. It was just nice to be taken out of that situation and I was like punched in the face. It’s completely different than anything that you could ever do within your own studio. It was like this electrolysis that sparked, put the wires back together. You didn’t have to think about anything else except for the project you were doing. We had all of our materials given to us. We had a studio space. We didn’t have to worry about eating. We didn’t have to worry about making money for the time that we were there. In that aspect, it was like the perfect situation. There was a lot of stuff going on, but we didn’t have to think about anything besides doing the task at hand.

ABN: How has being on “Work of Art” affected you as an artist and the sales of your artwork?
“I’m working on a lot of new and really different but also really exciting projects right now. It’s just nice for people to see my work and also respond to it. I’m just making what I’m making and putting it out there. It’s been really great to just be working on having a lot more projects. It’s exciting to see what’s ahead.”

ABN: What was the most difficult challenge for you?
“The first one was difficult because you’re thrown into this thing and you’re like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ I haven’t painted in like three years. It wasn’t difficult as far as execution but it was difficult as not something that I would normally make. It wasn’t as lyrical as some of the work I do. Probably the duality challenge [too] because I just couldn’t get the materials I had to use, the wood, [to work] setting up this rotary motion. I had to remember how that worked and it took up a lot of time and it was really frustrating. Also, I found it really weird that you had to make separate pieces but work as a team and then be judged on them as a whole.”


ABN: It became clear after watching the show that Miles had a little crush on you. Have you talked to him since the show?
Nicole: “Who? I’m just kidding. Yeah, we’re friends. We’re buddies. We were buddies on the show.”

ABN: What are your thoughts about being on reality TV? Was it really hard being away from family and friends?
“It felt more like art camp, where you go away and you don’t really get to see anybody that you know. You’re just in this completely different situation and there’s a bunch of cameras on you. I’ve done films before and television, but it’s funny when it’s specifically you. It was a fun experiment. There’s all that 15 minutes of fame stuff, but the people that I know that went on the show did it for fun. They didn’t do it for like nonsense and fame.”

ABN: What was it like living with the people that you’re competing against?
“It’s interesting. I didn’t find it bad. I kind of rose above all the dramatics. But also in this format, we weren’t really working with the same materials. We all kind of have different backgrounds. I could see something like ‘Project Runway’ being a little bit more competitive because you’re working with [similar] fabrics and you have to make a similar garment. With “Work of Art,” you can make whatever. The experience was more insular. For me at least, I was just focusing on myself. After the end of the day, when we transitioned into where we were staying at in our homes, we kind of left it at the door. At least I did. After watching the show, I guess some of the people didn’t leave it at the door. [Laughs].”

ABN: How many days go between challenges? Are they back to back? What is the timeline?
“Sometimes we have a little break in between but not that much. At some points we would beg for a break. Some challenges have just so much more effort that go into producing them, going right into the next challenge you’re shot. You have a little bit of a break to catch up on some sleep.”

-interview with Kate Stieren, ABN Contributing Writer

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