Monday, April 26, 2010

2005 Scholastic Award Winner Abdi Farah Paints a New Reality for Young Artists on New Reality Show

Move over aspiring divas, chefs, fashionistas, business execs and Jersey shore beach bums – visual artists finally have their own TV show. Coming this June, 2005 Scholastic Art Portfolio Gold winner Abdi Farah will star as the youngest contestant in BRAVO’s new reality series, Work of Art: The Next Great Artist.

And as a recent grad of the University of Pennsylvania’s fine arts department, Farah was no stranger to the late hours, fast deadlines and creative problem solving that reality TV competitions demand. His skills encompass a variety of media including sculpture, cartooning, printmaking, illustration and painting, which promise to make him a competitive contestant in the upcoming series. But the experience will definitely put his creativity to the test as he competes for a $100,000 prize and a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum against 13 other artists, whose backgrounds include film, architecture, photography, sculpture, digital art, performance art and mix-media.

Each episode will challenge the contestants to make a unique piece of art using a different medium with a panel of established art curators and critics judging the works. Guest appearances will include Sarah Jessica Parker and weekly celebrity judges such as mix-media artist Jon Kessler and photographer Andres Serrano.

No stranger to competitions, Abdi Farah draws inspiration from artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Hieronymous Bosch and Fred Astaire; his works depict compelling themes exploring identity, current events, historical references, religion – and even a series portraying the current President of the United States in outer space. His work has been exhibited in several cities including two Scholastic Awards exhibitions at the Diane von Furstenberg Gallery (New York City, 2005) and Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington D.C., 2004).

So, mark your calendars for Wednesday, June 9: Stop by Carnegie Hall to attend The 2010 National Awards Ceremony, check out the Empire State Building lit in gold in honor of The Scholastic Awards, and then get home by 11pm to check out the debut of Work of Art: The Next Great Artist on BRAVO.

See some of Abdi Farah’s work here, or check out this recent interview by Esu Magazine to learn more about his creative process.

Photo: Abdi Farah. Copyright Bravo TV, 2010.



The only thing I find odd about such contests as these is that I've heard that there's a lot of research about creativity and it comes about best when there isn't a monetary incentive to do something-- rather, monetary incentives tend to put creativity on the sidelines and people become narrowly focused, oftentimes taking longer to solve creative problems than others, and with less ease. Additionally, time constraints prevent people from really following their creative impulses.

Although the prize isn't necessarily 'incentive' as the people doing work also have a great deal of self motivation/find intrinsic pleasure in art, so creativity shouldn't be as much as a problem (although you never hear about a writer who always writes or a painter who always paints-- there's typically sporadic bursts of inspiration). However, I have to wonder what sort of message it sends about art and creativity in general. Will the show make Americans appreciate art/the importance of artists more than they do now, or will it reinforce the idea that the only winner is the one who makes big bucks? Will it celebrate creativity, or perpetuate the myths people have in the back of their mind about how creativity works? While I love the idea of representation of art in the media, and not just fashion/business, I have to wonder. Food for thought, I guess.


Great comment. It will be interesting to see what kinds of challenges these artists will receive, and what approaches they'll take to solving them. I guess we'll have to stay tuned and see how it all plays out.

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