WOA: Finale

Posted on December 23, 2011


Darlings, last-minute holiday preparations are keeping us from providing entertainment to our minions, so expect posting to be sporadic until Monday.


To its credit, Work of Art doesn’t really trade in over-the-top reality show melodrama. Sure, an artist cries almost every week and some of them are a bit too comfortable in front of a camera, but for the most part, it’s about the work at the end.

So the home visit scenes were pretty much stock “Here is a parent/dead parent and the person I sleep with” introductions to the finalists’ lives outside the workroom. Charming enough. They’re all pretty likable people; another mark in the show’s favor. They don’t push assholes through to the finals because they make good television.

And besides, Simon’s always a barrel of fun.

Honestly, there’s not much more to say than that. We didn’t have a stake in the outcome, but that’s because we would have been okay with any of them winning it. Oh sure, we were leaning toward either of the ladies taking it, but if Young had won, we wouldn’t have protested.


Oh China Chow, you adorable little fashion pixie. How we’ll miss you.


So congrats to Kymia! We were cracking jokes throughout the episode because she was crying every 45 seconds or so, but all bitchiness aside, we think it’s that very sensitivity that made her work so exemplary this time around.


In some ways, this exhibition put Young’s to shame. They both wound up exploring the same subject matter, but she managed a much more interpretive, haunting way to do so.

We agreed with the judges that the coffins were a bit iffy.

And that the head piece was pretty great.


Lorenzo is determined to purchase a print of this one.

Exploring death through art is not only not a new idea; it’s one of the very oldest of ideas. And mounting a show that consisted almost entirely of drawings was risky, given the way the judges tend to see things. But no one could deny that her images were haunting and striking, full of love, reverence, and longing without being obvious or saccharine about it. Even on TV, the quality of these pieces really shown through.

Kymia’s show is currently showing at the Brooklyn Museum until February 5th and if you’re interested, you can buy prints of her work here.

Sarah had some really strong pieces in this exhibit, but we think her starting point was weak. It was Post Secret in gallery format. “People have secrets” is no less profound an idea than “My father died,” but the other two participants did manage ways to take that very basic theme and make it personal and affecting. There was something of the observer about the concept here. And that’s fine; there is art to be found in the standing back and observing, but we didn’t feel connected to Sara through these pieces. We didn’t feel like she was saying anything we had to stop and listen to, for the most part.

Although we really did like the performance aspect of the show.

And thought the birdcage was the best of the pieces, with the mattress a close second. As China said when she saw the latter, “That’s intense.” The human hair lingerie was interesting, but we didn’t quite get the point. We really didn’t like the spider web at all, but the drawings were pretty great.

At first we were annoyed that she wasn’t second place, because we felt her work was more interesting and a bit stronger than Young’s, but talking it out like this, we realize we had more problems with the work than we thought. As we said, the very concept behind it wasn’t all that intriguing. “People have secrets” is like saying “People get sad.”

China was deeply moved by Young’s work and we were deeply moved by that. We were not, however, as deeply moved as we thought we should have been by the work itself.

The images are haunting and sad; beautiful in the way they make death seem mundane. Using his dead father’s shirts and things left in his pockets was a great idea, but Young didn’t really do anything interesting with any of them. Hanging the shirts up like laundry didn’t make them more interesting or have more of an impact.

Obviously we don’t know Young, but we got the impression that he had effectively moved on from his father’s death and that this exhibition didn’t have the same impact that Kymia’s did because she clearly hasn’t gotten over her father’s death. That’s not to say that Young is “over it;” just that we got the impression both from the way he talked about it and this exhibition that he’s further along in the grief process than Kymia is and thus, his work on the same topic didn’t have the raw feel that hers had. This was less an art show than it was an interestingly staged memorial. A good, but not great show.

All in all, the judging shook out exactly as it should have. This show doesn’t bring a lot of fireworks and melodrama, but it does quietly become something you look forward to watching every week. And it helps that, for a reality show, there’s some intelligence and expression on display. We’re gonna miss it.

[Screencaps: tomandlorenzo.com]

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  • Anonymous

    A few comments.

    1.) Loved that they were drinking a lambic with Simon at Young’s place. And Young’s bf was cute.

    2.) I loooved Kymia’s drawings, but I kept thinking that some of them reminded me of the style of drawings in “The Joy of Sex.”  They were beautiful, though…and that sculpture with the boat is haunting.

    3.) The “hair lingerie” was a reference to the hair shirt that John the Baptist (and other holy people, including monks, nuns, etc) wore as a form of penance. I think the fact that it was on sexy lingerie was a comment about feeling guilty for being promiscuous, enjoying sex, and so on.  Remember that Sara said her idea began with exploring Catholicism and the idea of confession.

    • Anonymous

      Just posted the same observation…..too funny!

  • MilaXX

    Agreed on all points. Kymia deserved the win. When I watching her show stood out head and shoulders above the rest. Sara’s piece even with it flaws seemed more deserving of second piece to me. I didn’t like the fur lingerie or the web, but it wasn’t a bad show. Young’s piece just felt too detached for me. I felt like I was supposed to be moved/feel sad by it, but I wasn’t.

    • BuffaloBarbara

      I felt like I was supposed to be moved/feel sad by it

      This.  I tend to rebel when a piece of art is flatly telling me that I’m to feel some particular way, so the emotional aspect didn’t trigger anything for me, and I just didn’t sense much of an intellectual aspect.  With one not working and the other not present, I was just left cold.

      • Anonymous

        It felt like Young’s piece was really only about him, and his loss, where Kymia’s piece spoke more broadly.

  • Jacqui

    One of the things that was crossing my mind while watching was, who would buy Young’s work from this show? And I know that’s not the point of art but if one of the prizes was Simon auctioning your work what piece would they sell?

    And for me (much like reading) I like when I can get something different from pieces at certain times in my life. For example I have a painting that is a bare forest with some light off in the distance and when I’m sad I get lost in the bare dark forest and the light fading away but when I’m in a happier mood I see the light as hope. I could see that with most of Kymia’s show and Sara’s birdcage. Having the work affect you based on how feel. And I just don’t know that Young’s work ever did that for me. The show, while moving was more one dimensional.

    Anyway, thats just my opinion…art is obviously subjective.

    • A gallery or a museum – most galleries today are feeders to institutions. “Who would buy that” is a weird question in art nowadays. I hope next season of WOA an artist comments on the weirdness of a reality show within those systems. Then again, that might be too cynical for the WOA judges.

      • BuffaloBarbara

        “Who would buy that” is a weird question in art nowadays.

        That’s actually too bad–true, but too bad.  It really isolates the art world from the rest of the world, and feeds the idea that art isn’t relevant to people outside the art world. Art needs to be more a part of people’s everyday lives.

        • I don’t know. I find it weird that people find “art about art”/”art for artist” elitist (and I know that’s not the term you were using or what you were necessarily implying, but it seemed like an easy next step someone might make so I’m preempting it) – I don’t think artists are technically part of the cultural elite necessarily – at least *monetarily* which is usually what people mean by “cultural elite” – I think hating on artists for creating work that speaks to other artists is generally the endeavor of the actual elitists who can afford art for their personal homes (and to lend out) – museums and many galleries are open to the public to visit if so they choose. Just because people don’t choose to go doesn’t make it the artist’s fault for being “irrelevant.”  Thus, the weird installation that no one but a museum might buy is possibly more democratic than the painting that would be scooped up by a collector and never seen by anyone except that circle of people again. Remember, art is expensive to produce (much as we live in the “everyone can consume all content free/cheap” world) and artists need to make a living, so much art in its original form is prohibitively expensive for a wide portion of the population, not because artists are being elitist or stingy but because it’s their job. 
          Sorry for the rant. I have a lot of artist friends from school. 

          • BuffaloBarbara

            It’s more complicated than that–I think that people should feel more like museums are places they feel welcome in, places that aren’t coded in some way that only initiates can understand.  I spent a lot of time in an art museum (the Albright-Knox) when I was a kid, because at the time, it was a voluntary donation to get in.  (Sorry to bust the image, but I was the child of a poor single mother–no one in the family has had the wherewithal to buy fine art.)

            It’s more about what art is, and what it does.  Art should speak to the community it’s part of–not just the artist community, but the whole community.  I find it sad not that artists put their work in galleries (where they can often be sold, so we’re not talking an either-or), but that artists have become so estranged from their communities that their art no longer speaks to anyone but one another.  I feel like we’ve hit a cultural disconnect that’s a real problem.  Artists, after all, are the ones who create the lasting artifacts of a civilization, and right now, it’s a very skewed and odd picture.

          • That’s sort of an institutional problem in and of itself, having to do with schools only really valuing art that speaks to artists, and poopooing anything with commercial value (only in art school is “illustrative” considered a criticism or even an insult) or even the idea that one’s art is one’s business. I mean, look at the crass way WoA showed artists “hocking” their wares on the street. You have to admit there’s some popular bias that artists be separate from the consuming public. It’s hard, and I think there’s a lot of value in art that pushes forward what art means (I mean, look at the Chapman Kelley case going through court right now in the sphere of copyright and moral rights as pertain to art) but I get what you’re saying.

            And I wasn’t personally accusing you of being wealthy enough to afford art, but there’s definitely a skewed perception that artists who make large scales works that basically only institutions can display/afford are elitist when, well, that’s their art, and I’m not sure what type of work you’re championing as speaking to “the community.” There are plenty of artists who do photography or prints or drawings and that speak to different communities, but their outlets are more institutional because that’s where they have the most control over display and the pieces. Kara Walker’s silhouettes might be odd to display in someone’s home and would probably take on different meaning than when they are in museums or galleries, but I don’t think that makes them inaccessible. Even Richard Serra, who I find somewhat insufferable, makes works that, while abstract, definitely instill a sense of awe in the viewer, and make one consider repetitive actions and process. If you’re just advocating simplistically understandable art, well then I don’t know what to say.

          • BuffaloBarbara

            I guess it’s hard to explain–I also can’t stand sickly sentimental art that I sometimes feel they try to foist on the public because they have such a low opinion of the public. (I also don’t get the disdain for illustrative art–some of the greatest work of art in history have been illustrative!)

            It’s true, some things are much better in galleries (or in really, really huge homes with giant white walls and not a lot of stuff to clutter, I guess).  Color field paintings are really striking in a gallery, but at home would get a bit lost.

            I suppose the best way to explain what I’m thinking is go from space to time–instead of “Which gallery/home would it look best in?”, I’m thinking more along the lines of whether or not the work stands on its own, without either the artists or contemporary critics to say, “This work represents Young’s feelings about is father’s death, and these are the shirts his father wore.”  If it were in a museum (or a private home) in a few hundred years, when everyone involved in it was already  long dead and mostly forgotten, would it have an impact on the people who saw it?  Would they respond to it as we can respond to the David?  In some cases of modern art, I think they certainly will.  In others, the disconnect will kill the piece.  Even if Young made a video explaining his installation, would those people care about it (providing the technology to play it was still around) any more than they’d care about a random self-published memoir on the internet?  Or would they just push aside the old shirts to go look for something more interesting?

            In other words, does the work speak on its own?  While walking down the hall of that future museum, will the viewer be stopped in his tracks to look and ponder?  And if he is, will it be to ponder the piece of art, or to scramble to remember what he knows about the artist’s biography and personal philosophy?

            When it comes to that, installation art is going to be at something of a disadvantage when the artist and/or his reps aren’t there to explain what goes where, and why.

          • :shrug: I dunno. I think it would be arresting to move through an institution and suddenly encounter the shirts (in fact, if they were hung across your path you’d be forced to interact with them) but I agree that the impact as is, isn’t really there. 
            I’m glad we worked toward a consensus and I think I get what you mean now. 
            There’s a certain iconic quality – the aura, to put it in Walter Benjamin’s words – that a piece of art has (even the mechanically reproduced, to stray from his definition) which reaches the viewer in some way and defines the moment of viewing. I’m comfortable agreeing that Young’s work doesn’t really take a strong point of view towards the artifacts he is displaying – in that way it’s definitely more memorial in that the viewpoint isn’t all that palpable, which it should have been more (as with Tracey Emin, who I mentioned below, where there are a lot of strong connotations and possible viewpoints she invokes).

        • Anonymous

          I think the point is that some people make work that people would want to buy to have in their homes and other people make work that is meant for museums or galleries. Both (and all other variants inbetween) are important.

          • BuffaloBarbara

            My point is that it’s too bad those two have become so deeply separated.  Museums really shouldn’t be such alien places.

          • I don’t really think they are, but then again, I live in New York and was an art major so I’m probably technically part of this separation problem. 

    • Jacqui, i know what you mean, and really it’s not even “who would buy” Young’s work, but rather who would want to own it, have it, look at it every day, whether it was bought or obtained as a gift for free. Kymia and Sara both created pieces that I would love to have in my life, that I would be moved by every time I looked at them, and that I would appreciate the artistry, talent and grace of every day. Sure, in order to have them in my life, I’d have to buy them, but it’s not about the commerce… it’s about “who would love to possess such a beautiful, meaningful thing.” Either Sara or Kymia would have rocked Simon’s auction with beautiful art pieces. I think Young’s works are so subjectively personal, that they belong in his home, with his family. Like someone said, he created a memorial more than a gallery show.

      • Sarah Milton

        John, you worded that perfectly!  I, too, wondered what they could possibly auction from Young’s show, but it is about so much more than the commercial aspect of the art.  It’s about which pieces you would want in your life, either in your house or in a museum.  To put it in yet another way, could you imagine saying to anyone, “oh, you must see Young’s show!”

        I was blown away by Kymia’s show.  She kind of snuck up on me, there.  I never hated any of her work throughout the season, and there were some pieces that I was impressed with, but she didn’t stand out as much to me as my favorite from the start, Sara.  It’s seems that due to her perfectionism and anxiety that Kymia doesn’t thrive under the create-on-command pressures of a reality show.  But, I’m so glad she survived until the end so that we could see her sublime show.

        The artist I wish could have had Young’s spot in the finale is Michelle.  I was intrigued by her sculptures with paper.  I would have loved to see what she could have brought to the final show.

        • I liked Michelle too. I probably would have preferred her in Young’s spot as well, since I have a soft spot for works that show the artist’s hand over the mechanically reproduced, as do most of the commentariat it seems (albeit somewhat more vehemently than me). 

      • Jacqui

        John you’re absolutely right. It is more of a why would you want to own that piece.

      • It’s disingenuous to say you’re talking about possession of art, but not commerce in art (and I don’t mean to be mean, but that’s exactly the problem art schools instill in their students). There are plenty of artists out there who, in my personal opinion, make accessible, personal works of art that may not be possess-able, and I’m really not sure who people are critiquing on within the art world as being totally disconnected and not possess-able, aside from Young’s show (which really is not necessarily all that different from many installation- or performance-type shows: Marcel Duchamp once waited until all the other artists in an exhibition had put up their pieces and then made his own cheeky piece, a giant web of string that forced viewers to view the works at a distance – how do you possess that?). Marina Abramovic is a performance artist who had one of the blockbuster shows of the year at MoMA. Yoko Ono (don’t hate, she was a great artist before John and is a fixture in the art world) makes beautiful, deeply moving pieces of performance art. If you ever go to a three-ring gallery circus like the Armory Show or the IFPDA Print Fair, you’ll see an abundance of beautiful pieces that are both clearly going to institutions or those that run the gamut. I think that most people don’t give artists enough credit – there are plenty of artists who make “mainstream” works (Takashi Murakami, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, the list goes on, but notice that these artists tend towards the litigious and ridiculously wealthy, with the exception of Murakami who is just adorable, though consider – collab’d with Louis Vuitton to make purses), and there are some artists who do institutional critique (though, in my opinion, not enough, since I can’t even think of any right now), and there are artists who make art “for other artists” (but which, in my opinion, can be appreciated by anyone with an open mind to realizing it’s art about the process of making art – the Minimalists, Abstract Expressionists, even Warhol to the extent he was about machinism), but I digress. 
        Anyway, I’m art-ranting for no apparent reason, so I apologize. The only thing I have left to add is: what makes Young’s show any more personal or less valid than, say, Tracey Emin’s “Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995” (ironically actually owned by Charles Saatchi and displayed in his home) or her other piece, “My Bed”, or Vito Acconci’s “Seedbed.” I guess my point, overall, is that sometimes art is about the experience just as much as the possession, so these sorts of critiques that apply in design competitions are different for art (not invalid, though perhaps much more skewed by personal taste and opinion of what constitutes art). 
        Just, you know, remember Walter Benjamin and Clement Greenberg. (I have a suspicion that commenters may possibly find it “elitist” or “inaccessible” to read criticism to gain a better understanding of art – that art should be understandable on its own without a lens, but I don’t really have a rejoinder to that except that just as the study of literature enhances one’s experience of a work one might otherwise find obtuse, for example Nabokov’s Ada, or Joyce’s Ulysses, so does the study of art. Also, I’m relatively certain that one can find the major pieces by these critics online.)

        • Art about the “process of making art” is insular, masturbatory crap.  It’s what makes the society-at-large distrust artists, because it’s obvious that those artists think that their naval-gazing is just “too deep” for the unwashed masses.  

          • … Why? Isn’t presenting it to the public exactly the opposite of thinking it’s “too deep” for the “unwashed masses”? 
            So you have problems then with abstract expressionists, minimalists, impressionists, Duchamp, and any work of art that plays with form and process? 
            Please give examples of this “insular, masturbatory crap” that offends your sensibilities so. 

            I mean, I can see the public thinking it’s boring and dry and uninteresting (all totally valid critiques) in the same way academic papers or law review articles are boring, but to be offended by it seems to me just the same pedestrian, anti-intellectual sentiments shown time and time again by mainstream media, which is disappointing to see parroted in TLo fan comments. I thought the unborn fawns were generally smarter than that, at least smart enough to realize that even if something doesn’t interest them, it may still have value in other circles. 

            But it seems to me it’s this comment is based on a view that sees artists on the whole as generally being dumb, as opposed to the artists seeing the public as dumb. THAT’S what tends to get angry responses from the artists themselves, which usually vindicates the popular opinion that artists are insular and elitist. 

            I mean, I think Richard Serra’s works are kind of arrogant and oppressive, but they’re interesting. I love the games/systems Sol Lewitt created that have allowed artists to create new versions of his works even now that he’s passed away. 

            But please, if you’ve recently been to a show that was just “insular, masturbatory crap”, tell me all about it. 

            PS: If you want to say Vito Acconci’s “Seedbed” was masturbatory, I will whole-heartedly agree with you, but that’s not process art, and the literality is neither here nor there. 

  • MilaXX

     I think she did mention it was her take on hair shirts.

  • Anonymous

    This was a pretty satisfying finale, overall, and the exhibits were really quite good.  I would not have objected to any of them winning but I did think Kymia was the rightful winner.  However, I would have placed Sara second over Young.  I thought Sara had the single best work of the three (the origami birds flying out of the cage) as well as the single worst (the hairshirt lingerie).  Young’s was for me the most disappointing of the three although some of his photographs were extremely good. 

  • I am in love with Sara’s birdcage, it was my favorite piece of everything, seconded by that mattress. I’m glad Kymia won, I just think her work is much better appreciated in person where the details could be better seen and the cumulative impact would be greater. Young’s was my least favorite. 

    And China, while totally adorable, is wearing one helluva a cracked out outfit. She’s like a blueberry topped with an acorn cap in that crazy thing. 

    • Anonymous

      How about that crazy black and white paillette number she wore for the final gallery shows and judging? LOVE!

    • Anonymous

      I thought it was a pan lid, from some french cookware set.

  • Anonymous

    I’m amazed and touched by how involved China is with the contestants. She was crying during the final elimination last week. Congratulations to Kymia and all of the finalists.
    Why does Tlo say bye China we’ll miss you? I hope you just mean because this seasons over and not that she’s leaving the show or there’s some indication that it’s not coming back. Best moment of the season- letting the contestants spray paint her white dress!

    • Anonymous

      I totally agree about China. I have been pleasantly surprised by her. I don’t know why I expected her to be somewhat bitchy and distant, but I appreciate her sincere affinity for the contestants, and how moved she seems to be by them. Can you imagine Heidi crying as she eliminated contestants from Project Runway? And there’s no need to discuss her wardrobe = FIERCE. China Chow is Chinalicious.

      • China has an amazing background, it makes her the perfect host of this show (which was much better this season). I thought China’s weird outfit was a “teapot” costume, with the crazy hat being the lid of the pot. Bless her for having such a sense of humor! Along with Simon, she’s one of the best things about the show.

  • Anonymous

    Kymia’s drawings without-a-doubt stole the show. Her handling of materials and the use of transparencies and textural forms in the body of the work gave them a sense of life that inks along would not have head. They glittered and breathed and held weight and air. I may be in the minority but I appreciated the coffins, not because they are singularly astounding pieces of art, but because they set a tactile tone for the rest of the exhibition and gave weight to what might be just pretty (if deliciously disturbing) drawings. Of the three, Kymia was the one who seemed to really be interested in the experience of the viewer of the work in the space…which considering Young’s previous pieces was surprising. 

    Okay, I’ve talk too much. I’ll stop.

    • I agree completely about the effect of Kymia’s 3D constructions. While I don’t think the whole format of the contest enabled her talents to shine week by week, she amazed me with the entirety of her gallery show, especially after where she was at during Simon’s visit!

  • Dear Bravo, I will watch Season Three if you offer one. I like the show, am sometimes flummoxed at what is considered ‘Art with a capital A’ to quote an old art professor.

  • Anonymous

    I have been reading a lot of the recaps and a lot of people have been calling this season dull or a sophomore slump and I couldn’t disagree more. I loved that the drama was cast aside in favor of bringing better artists along (except for maybe the fact that Young outlasted Michelle – could you imagine a final show of all her crazy paper sculpture!?). I agree with what people are saying about Young’s show being more of a memorial. I really would have preferred his original idea with the travelling platform. Regardless, all three of the finalists just come across as really sincere, genuine, hardworking, thoughtful, focused people and it was kind of lovely to just watch them quietly and seriously put together 3 great shows. Some say boring, I saw refreshing. I definitely thought that Sara deserved second (but I understand why Young got it). I feel she may have been led a little astray by Jerry who told her not to be afraid of any material (sending her in the sculpture direction) when Bill posted in his blog that he wanted to see large watercolours from her. I can’t believe that they got after her about being “disjointed” it was very clear how all the pieces fit together through her artist’s statement and the video, and the secrets hanging at the entrance and I think that even aesthetically and tonally it all made sense together (the sculptural objects looked like they belonged to figures in the drawings). I think maybe the issue was the birdcage, it was a very strong sculpture, but it was sort of dominating and a tonally different than everything else. An argument could be made that it matched with the secrets that were hanging and the idea of release or confession but it seemed like no one wanted to make that argument. I have to say it’s really cool that Kymia won. I love that she cried every 45 seconds and I loved the sheer labour that went into her drawings. I actually thought both (or all 4 depending on how you see it) of her sculptures were excellent and did this really interesting thing in terms of relating to the depiction of burials in her drawings as well as relating to the materials she used – and not in an obvious way. 

  • Anonymous

    Personally, Young’s stuff just didn’t connect with me.  I can see your point, but so many of Sara’s pieces are so beautiful that I was worried when she was eliminated first.  My heart sunk when I thought they’d hand him the win, to validate him winning all of those challenges earlier in the season.  Kymia should have won in my opinion.  I wish I could have appreciated the ethereal nature of her work better over the television.

    • Anonymous

      I have a bunch of stuff from my deceased father, too, and while deeply meaningful and moving to me, I wouldn’t expect any viewer to have that punch in the gut from it that I get.  Kymia’s piece, however, allowed a more universal conections, and that would have been my win, too.  Altho’, gotta admit, I didn’t get the headpiece at all.  Can a more enlightened kitten fill me in?

      • Anonymous

        I know she was referencing Thoth, the Egyptian scribe God that has something to do with the underworld mythology and I believe that is supposed to be his helmet. I think that physically it is somewhat strange and foreign that it works as a sculptural object but then it has the not obvious mythological reference which helps as well. 

      • Pam Winters

        What I liked about the graves and the headpiece was that that part of the show (at least onscreen) reminded me of something in a cultural history museum; together, those pieces looked like artifacts from a lost culture, and I found that aspect satisfying in terms of her stated theme.

    • Young’s work is all concept and story- call me old and conservative but I think Art should involve technique- and I don’t see any. If he wants to present himself as a photographer, that’s different- he’s fine at that.

  • Anonymous

    Also, if there was a cutest boyfriend competition between the final 3, Young totally wins. 

    • Anonymous

      lol, I must say, I think they’re all pretty cute!  😀

  • Anonymous

    “Tlo said: The human hair lingerie was interesting, but we didn’t quite get the point.”

    I think she referenced it to ‘wearing a hair shirt’, which is an expression (maybe used more in the UK) someone uses to express self-punishment or repenting for wrongdoing (real or imagined). I think that was supposed to go with the shame of the secrets.

    Both Kymia and Sara have serious drawing skill and I wish they had relied more on that and not felt the need to always add constructed pieces. An exhibit of well though out paintings and drawings would be more compelling than what they did, I think.

    My problem with all the pieces, all season, was that they relied to heavily on explanation, sensationalism and gimmick for its own sake. The work should be able to stand on its own without having someone standing next to it explaining what its about. To me, that made them seem very art school – and Kymia and Sara both have the talent to NOT rely on gimmick. And what I would like to have seen from them was an exploration that used their considerable drawing and painting skills. It was like they fell into a trap during the competition because they were surrounded by contestants who didn’t have the skills they have, who resorted to the constructions to camouflage their lack of skill. But once they were away from that, I’d have hoped they had the confidence to rely on their talent. I guess that’s a part of the culture we live in now where EVERY single person, whether they’re a game show contestant or an elite athlete or whoever, has to be presented as a story that reduces them to their problems. And because of that, I never know for sure whether any of these things is genuine or sob story for the cameras.


    • Anonymous

      Yeah, a lot of the pieces all season long were problematic for the reasons you’ve stated, and I would add heavy-handed literalism to the list of deficiencies.   That’s the problem I had with Young’s piece; to me it came off as “my father died and made me sad, here are a bunch of his belongings.”  Then he relied on a similar experience within the viewer to strike a resonant chord and do the rest of the work — as it clearly did with China, but not a lot of the others.   In my opinion he stopped short of pulling it all together to convey those feelings through the piece itself, which is what Kymia accomplished so well.

      • Pam Winters

        When we were at Young’s home or studio and we saw the shirts, I thought that they would work well. The idea of them hanging there, literally disembodied, perhaps moving like ghosts…I thought that it could be very strong. Unfortunately, it ended up looking like laundry day. And the photos attached to the shirts undercut the impact of both.

      • Anonymous

        What’s it like to lose a father? Ugh.

    • BuffaloBarbara

      One of the things that made Kymia’s work stand out in the finale, though, is that you don’t need her story.  Maybe you won’t get the same things out of it that she saw when she was making it, but you don’t have to.  Her story adds interest, but the pieces stand on their own.

      • Anonymous

        Yes, as opposed to Young’s which, without the explanation, didn’t look like anything.


        • BuffaloBarbara

          Exactly.  I think that we’ve kind of reached the limit of how much is about the artist as opposed to the art.  The piece needs to stand on its own at some point; the artist isn’t going to be there in four hundred years to explain to the children visiting the museum on a school trip what he was thinking when he hung up shirts with pictures glued to them.

  • Anonymous

    Big Congo rats to Kymia, who clearly had the strongest show.  I agree that it’s almost embarrassing how much more powerful and insightful hers was than Young’s, considering they explored the same material.  I think it worked in her favor to have that direct comparison as a gauge.  I liked a lot of Sara’s individual elements, but it was a bit scattershot and unfocused when taken as a whole.

    This is the only type of reality TV I can stomach.  No manufactured rivalries, no forced dramatic arcs, letting the drama happen (or not) as it will.  I’ll be here for season three.

  • Anonymous

    I was surprised they gave the second place to Young instead of Sara, because Sara’s work (albeit from an outsider’s viewpoint, as you state) was just so much more creative … and used such a strong combination of media. I was also left with the impression that Sara’s required way, way more time, both in thought and execution. Young doesn’t appear to be able to draw or paint, or illustrate … and the other two finalists had his skills (multi-media, installations, large statements) PLUS amazing drawing skills and their own beautiful illustrative styles. But Kymia winning was perfect. She’s nice, talented, completely devoid of ego, and totally deserving of the win. Besides, Young won so much money during the other challenges (plus having his work in Entertainment Weekly, etc., that he could almost be considered a winner in some ways, too). 

    • Why should the opinion of an “outsider” be less valid?  To me, art is at its best when it can be appreciated by people who don’t possess art school pretensions.  Art, from the very beginnings of human society, was meant to speak to the community as a whole.  What is wrong with that?

      • Anonymous

        I don’t think that anyone was suggesting that Sara was an outsider, as in outside the art world, or that their post (or mine) was lessened because we’re “outsiders” (I actually work as a graphic designer.) It’s just that Sara’s entire gallery presentation was about a voyeuristic view of something (the way she hid in a costume, and then worked with OTHER people’s confessions and fears) … as opposed to Kymia and Young, who chose to explore their own inner feelings about death, and its immediate effect on them. So, from that standpoint, Sara’s work was that of an “outsider” or voyeur, while the other two took personal, internal approaches.

  • Anonymous

    I really didn’t like Young’s installment. At all.

  • I think I’m echoing most of the commentary when I say I thought Young should have taken 3rd place instead of Sara. While I understand some of her work wasn’t perfect, her pieces stayed with me much longer than Young’s work (and Sara won big points with me for never mentioning her father).

  • I don’t see the pieces from the finale available at the overstock site – are they to come later? Because I would seriously consider several of Kymia’s drawings. Fantastic.

    • They still don’t have them up.  Maybe because they’re being shown in the gallery and sold by Simon?  Not sure, but I wish they were available.

  • Anonymous

    On a lighter note, did you catch the soundbite of adorable Simon saying “Make it work!” with his tongue no doubt firmly in his cheek?

    • BuffaloBarbara

      I loved that!

  • Anonymous

    Glad Kimya won 🙂 Not glad that Sara got third. Young’s piece reminded me of a yard sale.  

    BTW…you have the wrong link for the Brooklyn Museum. Yours leads to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Brooklyn Museum link is brooklynmuseum.org. A direct link to Kymia’s work is here:

  • Pay attention, Project Runway producers.  I actually enjoyed watching this show week after week.

  • rick gonyo

    I was happy for Kymia and would have preferred Sara coming in 2nd. I like Young and think he has talent but I was really stunned how detached I felt from his work in the finale. You might be on to something about he’s just in a different place in regards to his father’s death. I think back to his self=portrait that he brought at the beginning. That picture had such power and guts that was missing in his finale work.

    I really loved how much Sara grew and pushed herself and her finale really showed it. She’s going to do okay for herself professionally. This is proof that Sara being in the finale was a much better choice than Lola. Even if Lola is no where near the personality she came across in the final edit, I doubt she was a point where she could have pulled off a show this effectively. That birdcage says so much

    Anyway hurray for Kymia. A pleasant surprise. very deserving

  • Anonymous

    “They don’t push assholes through to the finals because they make good television.” THIS season. They didn’t do that THIS season.

    Anyway. I was even more frustrated with Young’s show than you guys. It fell flat for me, with the hanging shirts looking unimpressive and the fact that he still insisted on working in that asinine cube structure pretty childish, like he couldn’t let go of an idea when it was failing. I though the altar was interesting as a piece of art, and some of the photos themselves were pretty great, but the overall presentation of the show was unimpressive.

    Sara’s show I was very mixed about. Some of the pieces were stunning (that birdcage was astonishing through the television; I imagine in life it would’ve been even stronger), but others seemed very low-concept (the hair bikini, the drawing of a man and a woman with their intestines intermingled, the web with fingernails). I’m still not sure how I feel about the mattress. I think I would have liked it more — and perhaps her whole show more — if I didn’t know which secret she was referencing. The mattress was interesting and powerful, but far less powerful than the note that inspired it (something like “I am homeless and worried about my health because I share needles, but I just want to put an end to this nightmare”). Maybe it’s because, as you said, she’s essentially an observer here. I personally would find it very intimidating to try to render pain so much deeper than anything I, personally, have known.

    Kymia’s show was aesthetically beautiful, thematically strong, and highly salable. I really disliked the coffins but I still thought she was the obvious win.

  • J Dreesen

    i think there was such a difference between Young’s and Kymia’s energy because – even though it is just as heartbreaking – when a loved one dies slowly over time, there is a completely different grieving process in place than what happens when a loved one dies in an accident, quick and unexpected.  i think that’s the tone i noticed within their shows, in terms of the overall energy/perception of the loss.

    that being said i enjoyed all three installments; but i’m a sucker for an art show, capital A or not.

  • Anonymous

    Everything about Young’s work just always looked so pat to me, like he wanted it to be “art” but also wanted it to be pretty. As a result, nothing seemed to have much depth other than the initial “i get it”. He would make an interesting store window dresser for that reason. This piece was no exception. If you saw these shirts hanging in a store window with the photos attached it would take about five seconds to realize it had something to do with memories and someone’s clothes, etc. Other than that we get little idea how he actually feels about those clothes (or the photographic memories) at all. His piece just didn’t cut it for me. 

    Also, I loved Chow’s black and white dress with the paillards. Her wearing that told me more about her aesthetic, view towards fashion and overall exuberance than anything of Young’s told me about his POV.  

  • BuffaloBarbara

    I was really glad Kymia won, for exactly the reason you stated: She took the same subject matter, and used it more hauntingly and imaginatively.  (And, while drawings may be a risk for the show, they’re much easier to translate into gorgeous prints, which will help sales.  Not to be all practical or anything.)

    I think her show demonstrated a huge amount of technical skill, plus a  level of imagination that we didn’t see in the others–Young’s left me cold because it was just so very literal, and Sarah’s, while not quite as literal on the level of the actual art pieces, didn’t seem to have much new to say about the nature of secrets.  Kymia’s had a lot of thought about death and afterlife, and showed real thought as she imagined what it might all be.  The fact that she was raised without any pre-existing ideas made the pieces much more unique, and most importantly, she showed us things that did not exist in the “real” world–she showed us things she actually created, that only existed in her mind until she brought them to life.

  • Anonymous

    Both of my parents recently died–one slowly and one in an accident–so I could deeply relate to both artist’s experience almost exactly.  I agree with your analysis.  Young’s was a beautiful memorial made of external objects and images.  I loved the photos–so clear, beautifully composed and lit, moving.   The altar was interesting, as was the idea of using his father’s things.  The “booth” seemed extraneous, as did the projected images.  The shirts could have been interesting if he had done more with them.  I think he has an issue with installation/curating.  He doesn’t hang his own work in ways that highlight it.  The shirts were too heavy and opaque for the exhibit.  Kymia’s work was from so deeply inside of her–a real exploration and gorgeously rendered.  I was glad that she won.

  • Anonymous

    If all that hard candy was left in Young’s father’s pockets, maybe he died of diabetes? Just a thought. 

  • Anonymous

    I wasn’t sure which collection I liked the best (other than it wasn’t Young’s) because this was one of those times where it seems like you really needed to be there to judge.  On TV, I responded more to Sara’s but I didn’t feel like I was able to experience either hers or Kymia’s as they should be experienced.  I did think Young’s was the weakest of the three, and seemed more like an imaginative memorial than a galleried show.  

    I enjoyed WOA once they weeded through most of the poser BS and I liked the last episode because that kind of BS was completely gone once Lola left. I’m not as positive on the show as a whole as you, T Lo, and the juxtaposition with Top Chef really highlights the fact that most of these WOA contestants really are too young or too unfocused or too untalented to deserve the opportunity they’re getting.

  • I really disliked Young’s work here. I appreciate him wanting to share his experiences and emotions, but he didn’t conceptualize it into anything other than a tribute to his father. He wasn’t able to remove himself from the emotion of it and view his pieces objectively. And then if you break it down into art as commerce, I don’t see anyone wanting to purchase any of his pieces, except maybe a family member.
    Anyway, way to go Kymia!

  • Lattis

    We didn’t have a stake in the outcome
    I wasn’t invested in their personalities – and somehow it made me more invested in the art they created. Which is a phenomenon I recall from watching the earliest Project Runways. I really admire that about WOA. It actually allows the art the artists create to be a major “character” in the show.

    Unlike T & Lo, I was kind of blown away by the home visits. Simon ripped the two women out of their safe, fall back positions. He didn’t manage to shake Young up, and too bad for that. I think that especially with Kymia, Simon’s visit had the effect of making her  move away from the “safest” or most obvious interpretations of her theme. So, she ended up making visual images that were very personal metaphors. And, as an art viewer, it is wonderful to be drawn into an artist’s images, to explore her visual metaphors and make my own connections and interpretations. 

    I think that Young’s work felt two or three steps removed from his open heart. Kymia effectively flayed her’s. 

    • Anonymous

      Hmmm, but Young was doing an almost entirely different piece when Simon came to visit.  Young’s first idea had nothing to do with his father’s death.

      • Lattis

        Yeah, he was. Do you think that his first idea would have been more effective if he’d have carried it through? I don’t know – I’m really asking. I think that Simon’s visit derailed Young and he never recovered. With the women, Simon’s criticism was a catalyst for deeper thinking. 

        • Anonymous

          Oh, okay.  I see, I misunderstood you.  

          No, I don’t think the first idea would have had the weight in needed, compared to the work of the women.  But I think Kymia would have had to have collapsed not to beat Young.  Young excelled at answering the limits of challenges, but his work just didn’t have much depth to me–ever.  I just don’t think he’s there.  He’s more a good student than a full-fledged artist.  

          I actually *don’t* think Young is as far along in the grieving process as Kymia.  I think Kymia’s grief was very deep, so she had worked a long time and at a profound level to transmute it.  Young’s was more–this was my father.  It hurt.  Kymia’s was more a meditation on how we deal with dying and wondering what we become.  It was very felt, but less immediate and more universal in what its contemplation.  

          So Young:  my dad died.
          Kymia:  We all die.

          I just don’t think Young was going to get where Kymia was creatively in two months.

        • I think his first idea would have been more effective.  It might not have been win-worthy, but it would have been better.

          As for the women, I also didn’t completely agree with Simon’s critique of Kymia’s work.  I would have preferred her sculptures to those gravesite installations.

  • Anonymous

    Okay — I may need to Lysol my brain, but does Sara’s mattress and similar drawing look a bit like lady bits?

    And I love Kymia’s drawings but some of the line works remind me of the original Joy of Sex book….complete with hirsute hippies.

    • Anonymous


  • Lattis

    I have mixed feelings about the “exploring other media” that all the artists were encouraged to do. Didn’t the judges specifically advise the artists to not be “afraid” and explore other media. Was that advise just given to Kymia? 

    Gotham said that what she  “would like to have seen from [Kymia and Sara] was an exploration that used their considerable drawing and painting skills.” Me, too. But, I think the artists would have been given demerits for not following the judges’ specific instructions. Maybe the advise to work in other media was a way of trying to get the artists to (as they say) dig deep – but, I wish they hadn’t said it. 

    What’s wrong with just having a show of painting and drawing?

    • Anonymous

      I’m not disagreeing with you, but from a curatorial standpoint, a show of only paintings and/or drawings can be a little dry. I’ve been to plenty of exhibitions based around a painter’s work (Michelangelo’s drawings, Caravaggio’s paintings) where the curators have included some 3-dimensional pieces that might refer to something in the 2-D pieces just to liven things up a little.

      • Lattis

        Yeah, I like exhibitions of sculptors that include some of their drawings – Calder’s was a favorite. I agree that it makes a good exhibit – if all the work is good. But, these guys are young artists who are still developing their craft. You know, what’s her name . . . Annoying Girl, did one or two each  in a bunch of different media for every challenge. She hadn’t focused on a particular skill and developed it – like both Kymia and Sara had with drawing and painting. I question expecting these young artists to be experts in everything. 

    • Anonymous

      “don’t be afraid of any material” was directed to Sara by Jerry, I believe. 

  • Anonymous

    I would have liked Sarah to be in second place.  Young’s work was fine, but it was more of a life-sized scrapbook.  Sarah demonstrated more technical ability.   

    I adored Kymia’s work and if I were independently wealthy I would buy one of those pieces.  Maybe two.

    Overall, this was an enjoyable show.  I loved watching the creative process and I am glad they left most of the useless drama crap off the air.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I’m going to miss it too.

  • Some of Young’s photos are really compelling, but the shirts on the clothes line are just so…aesthetically displeasing.  I think that maybe he had presented them differently, maybe with the shirts and shoes framed or on a pedestal, his obvious reverence for his father would have shown through more.  The photos could have looked great as bigger prints.

    I disagree that Young is a weaker artist because he lacks the technical illustration skills of the girls.  He’s a conceptual/performance artist, and I’m sure that he can produce some really strong stuff.  He just missed the mark this time.

    • Geoff Dankert

      Had Young used maybe three or four of his father’s shirts and presented them as wall installations — not to be cliched, but perhaps in the manner that ornate kimonos often are displayed — they might have had MORE impact. As it was, they did just look like laundry. For me, it was another example of Young not knowing when to edit.

  • Anonymous

    Oh China Chow, you adorable little fashion pixie.

    FYI – the New York Times did an article on China Chow’s fashion sense the other day: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/22/fashion/with-a-style-of-her-own-making-up-close.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=china%20chow&st=cse

    • BuffaloBarbara

      That’s a really interesting article, and I liked the observation that she “doesn’t dress for men.”  I hadn’t really thought of it, but it’s true–none of her outfits, no matter how wild, have even a little bit of a sex-kitten vibe.  Go, China.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the link.  Love the way she agreed to wear her hair down in exchange for wearing black one episode and the way she matches her outfits to the challenges.  China rocks.  Maybe TLo could do a post going through the different outfits, which challenge and who they were by.  She is all kinds of awesome fashionwise.

      • Anonymous

        Maybe TLo could do a post going through the different outfits, which challenge and who they were by.

        That is an insanely marvelous idea!  I’d love to read that post!

        • Anonymous

          Yes, TLo has a name for those kind of posts where they break down someone’s style.  China’s style is fascinating.  She’s tiny, too, so she can’t wear just anything, but she knows how to push boundaries without, somehow, being worn by her clothes.  I think the dresses are almost always above the knee for one thing.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for posting close-ups of all the art. I was rooting for the girls too.
    I’d love a print of Kymia’s boat. No time to read or post more.

    I just spent 3 hours in the kitchen making chicken mole for Christmas dinner.
    I wish I could share with all the bitter kittens and TLo. It turned out AWESOME!

    Merry Christmas, Tom and Lorenzo!

  • I am already looking forward to Season 3!

  • I was pleased with WOA when I realized that, not only was I ok with anyone winning (though I too was rooting for either of the girls more since Young already won metric butt-tons of money) but also that I really admired and enjoyed all of the shows and the work therein, which feels like it hasn’t been true of any of the arty reality shows I’ve been watching lately – I didn’t feel any need to throw things at the screen and yell at the designer/artist, asking, “Why the fuck did you think that was a good idea?!” It surprised me. 

  • Anonymous

    Merry Christmas, mon amis!!

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t dislike any of the contestants, but I’d have been mad if Kymia hadn’t won–her technique and exploration of theme were miles ahead of Young’s.  Kymia’s work was deeply creative and unique.  I don’t think anyone else could have and would have done those drawings.  Young’s piece was coherent and sincere, but it didn’t go anywhere.  But this has been my issue with Young throughout the season.  He was very good at meeting the parameters of the challenge and, with the portrait, finding a good idea, but he never took me any place unexpected or unknown.  

    I also felt Sara should have had second place.  I almost felt that Young got second because he’d made so much money from the earlier challenges that giving him third would have made the judges look foolish for having over-rewarded him during the competition.  

    I liked Sara’s work–the secrets bird, the cage, but the whole thing felt exploratory to the point where she didn’t use her strengths–those strange, beautiful watercolors–and the judges missed them.  Glad she got the money for art school.

    While I liked the final, I realized it felt just a little flat.  Kymia was so clearly the best of those left, while her one true competitor–Michelle–had already been nixed.  Kymia v. Michelle would have been gripping.  That would have been a really interesting match-up of talents and I really don’t know who would have won.

    So, I have a problem with Simon.  I like his presence, but I don’t think he gives great advice.  I hope the show’s back next season and an artist/teacher is involved as a mentor.  Someone who knows the creative process from the inside–and before anyone tells me Tim Gunn was never a designer, I’ll point out that he *was* a sculptor.  

    • Lattis

      I am ambivalent about Simon. Sometimes it seems like when he comes around for his studio visit it’s a given that he will throw cold water on the artist’s project. It’s like he is responding to the work in front of him as though it is already finished so it falls short. Kind of reminds me of when I was growing up and showing my mom a piece of art before it was done. 🙂   

      I ‘d have liked to seen Michelle in the final 3, too. But, boy, did she crash in the car challenge. Actually, it’s another instance where Simon’s studio visit criticism badly derailed an artist. The mentor role on these shows is definitely the trickiest. 

      • Anonymous

        Yep, the car challenge was one of the things that really made me question what Simon was doing.  Michelle needed some help with process.  If it had been Tim Gunn, he would have asked some guiding questions and he’d have been there a second time to opine on which piece should be shown.  Tim’s not infallible, but I think he gets the creative process a lot better.  

        What kills me about Michelle is that she knew she was off and the right feedback would have saved her.  The judges said that she’d have stayed with the window piece or even her first one.  Actually, I think if the other big disaster had been someone besides Kymia, Michelle would have stayed.  

        As I said, I like Simon’s personality, but he’s not a mentor.  I wish they’d even drag around the artist judge through the studio once for better feedback.  

    • I was disappointed with Simon too – especially as regards Kymia in the finale.  I liked her sculptures!  They were interesting.  They made me want to ask questions.  Simon’s immediate negative response was over the top.  And I certainly like them better than those grave sites she ended up with.     

      • Anonymous

        I couldn’t tell if I liked them or not.  Simon had such an immediate negative reaction to them.  I think that’s kind of the problem–he reacts instead of asking open questions that makes the artist ask her/himself questions.  That’s what Tim does so well.  Simon gives the opinion of a would-be buyer.  He’s certainly sophisticated, but as I say, he’s not about process.

      • Anonymous

        The thing with her sculptures is that had she showed them with the final set of drawings I don’t think they would have worked. I wouldn’t have liked figurative sculpture with figurative drawings. I liked that the sculptures were things that may have been used by the figures in the drawings instead. 

  • I absolutely love this show. I went to school for art history and museum studies, and it is terrific that a pop culture/reality show is making people discuss fine art. These are young artists, and I do hope that some older, more mature artists get through this in the next season or two, just to see a different perspective. That said, it really is a wonderful show, and I’m so sad that this season is already over!!

    • Anonymous

      I was thinking about the “older more mature artists” thing and honestly, I wonder if not very many of them apply. I could see maybe someone who is older but began their art career late (but then that’s not really the “more mature artist” perspective you are suggesting). I think established, mature artists would have a really tough time subjecting themselves to the overblown criticism and hoop jumping of reality television (Jerry Saltz in his blog likened this season to grad school, and most of the artists were just out of grad school or only had a Bachelor’s degree or no training so someone who was well past the schooling portion of their art career may be extremely frustrated and “over it”). That being said, I really agree that it would be interesting (someone way different than Judith from Season 1 because she was just grumpy), but I just wonder about the likeliness of anyone of that description applying. 

      • Oh, I’m sure that more seasoned artists most likely would avoid this show, which is a shame, because I would like to see someone who has a much firmer footing in his/her art take on Jerry and all the other judges when they start their crits. Just because an art critic and a gallery owner have something to say about your art doesn’t make it the be-all and end-all of critique, and I’d love to see livelier crit sessions where the artists get in a few more punches, rather than just standing there like truant schoolchildren whenever they’re criticized.

    • Anonymous

      As long as the older, more mature artists don’t include that woman from last season who made pussy paintings.

  • Anonymous

    I enjoyed WOA very much this year; I didn’t get to watch the first season, so I’m pleased to have discovered it this year.  I agreed with the final judging, and I agree with TLo that all three of the finalists were quite likeable, which, for me, represents a significant difference from recent seasons of Project Runway.  More than anything in fact, WOA made me miss the first four seasons of Project Runway…

  • I’m really amused at the arcs of both seasons of this show.

    Week after week of crazy, unfair (but incredibly entertaining) challenges that seem stacked against the finer artists, weird criticisms of people for using the mediums they’re trained in instead of trying new materials and giving wins to the person with the most straightforward, approachable ideas…

    And then they flip around and give it to the person with the strongest drafting skills. Which makes me EXTREMELY happy, but with the tone of the rest of the show it’s like they suddenly swing around and go “Oh hey maybe technical skill should matter!”

    Anyway, I’m glad Kymia won. I think the way the show harps on artists for not showing them new, different things in different mediums is insane though. There are many, many successful artists who work in only one medium in the same themes and tones and it’s only helped their career because their work is instantly recognizable. And people see their art and think ‘Oh I really like their work, I’d like to own a similar looking piece’. That’s why Sylvia Ji can do nothing but technically accomplished acrylic paintings of beautiful pale women.

    It’s cool when people branch out into different mediums and for a reality show, someone approaching a challenge the same way every time could get quite dull but it’s not really accurate to the art world. That’s why the gallery owner accurately thought the grave sites were unnecessary and the drawings on acetate weren’t necessary but the art critic loved them. I think she was absolutely right to include them because they go crazy for ‘different materials’ but it was sort of nuts that Jerry was saying that after showing off those big, beautiful drawings the act of her throwing dirt on something was exciting. 

  • Anonymous

    Well, I sure would like to hear ScottyF’s take on this, as
    well as on the rest of the proceedings over the past week.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this.  So are you out there lurking, Scotty?  Speak up!  
    And if you are lurking, I want to wish you a Merry Little Christmas…

    And I was going to say, I noticed that when you chose to quote
    this song, you chose the earlier lyrics, “we’ll have to muddle through somehow.”  It was Frank Sinatra who later, thinking that
    was just too depressing, changed it to, “hang a shining star atop the highest
    bough.” This has been one of my favorite Christmas songs for some time, and it’s
    the Pretenders version that has a way of almost ridiculously  bringing me to my knees every single year.  And even though it uses the later, more “positive”
    lyrics, Chrissie Hynde infuses every word with such a I’m-putting-a-brave-face-on-this-shit
    that the very first time I heard it, it finally hit me that, OF COURSE, this was a
    war-time song.  The “through the years we
    all will be together” was entirely up in doubt, a fact that all the chipper,
    upbeat studio versions of that song had kind of whitewashed away.  It’s really kind of stunning. Very much of a
    piece really with their “Back on the Chain Gang,” another passionate plea for
    the personal attachments that the world had a way of ripping apart:  “The news of the world got into the house like
    a pigeon from hell…”

    For my money, that defiant, even if it seems doomed,
    insistence on personal connection as the highest value makes Chrissie Hynde one
    of the fiercest bitches ever.  But then I’m
    losing interest in the divas of “fuck you bitches I’m gonna wear what I want ‘cause
    the rules don’t apply to me” in favor of the divas of heart and soul and
    passion whose “fuck you”s are more appropriately directed…

    Or it’s just turning into Christmas Eve, I’ve
    had a little too much wine, and I’m getting maudlin.  So I’m wishing you and everyone a Merry
    Little Christmas, and may we all fight for what’s really important.  And stay together if the fates allow!

  • Anonymous

    Young’s installation took the ‘flogging-the-dead-parent’ reality-show trope to a whole new level.  Clinique Counter stands in awe.

    (I’m sure Young legitimately grieves his father and I can see working through that as a natural jumping-off point for an artist, but where Kymia took that experience and transformed it and explored it and made it universal, Young simply hung up a bunch of relics and totems and expected them to do the work for him.  It was effective as a memorial to his father, but beyond that it didn’t work as Art, to the point where it verged uncomfortably on the exploitative.)

    • Anonymous

      It was appalling. In retrospect what’s even more shocking is to realize it was in perfect keeping with everything he had done up to that point and that it should have surprised no one that not only did he thus think it appropriate but that it would secure the win. It suggests the whole season he has coasted, been lazy, turned into a form of art his ability to using something else or someone else to do most of the heavy work for him to convey depth, whether it be appropriating controversy generated from outside himself as though it in itself were his art (Prop 8, Ai Weiwei), or using another artist’s portrait of Young as a key compelling component of the portrait challenge, or even the earlier piece on fathers that started as a surface conversation with Rusty and required interactive input for its perceived depth that I’m not sure otherwise is ever there in Young’s work. In hindsight I’m now thinking that he probably thought using underwear as his canvas alone was all it would take to turn poorly rendered smiley-faces-on-underwear into art.

      • Anonymous

        “turned into a form of art his ability to using something else or someone
        else to do most of the heavy work for him to convey depth”


  • Leonardo Alves

    It’s all been said! I can only add one thing:
    Young’s boyfriend is hot!

  • I’m really thinking of going to Brooklyn at the end of January to check out the show.  After reading about how her drawings are textured and almost three-dimensional, I really think I should see them in person.  I already think they are powerful.

    I liked each of the final shows, which surprised me.  I read Sarah is now in grad school, and that may help her a lot.  I’d love to see her MFA show.

    • Anonymous

      Post here about what the show is like if you see it.  I’d love to see them in person, but I’m on the wrong coast.

      None of Kymia’s work seems to be available on overstockart.com.  Sold out, I think or maybe the finale stuff just isn’t available.

    • Anonymous

      Better you should go to Brooklyn to see HIDE/SEEK.

  • I really thought that Sara should have been considered second over
    Young. Both she and Kymia created works of beauty AND depth, and both
    demonstrated their skill with drawing. Young, being mostly a
    photographer and typographic artist, had a greater challenge to create
    something personal, and he didn’t do that. I thought his introductory
    statement was the most moving thing of all, but his installation left me
    cold. I think he’s very talented, but on this occasion, I believe he
    succeeded third best.

    • Anonymous

      I agree whole-heartedly.

      • Anonymous

        I agree too.  I must say that I loved Kymia’s show–she brought mystery and universality into her meditation on her father’s passing, and that raised it to a much higher level than Young’s.

        I’m sad to see this season end.  I thought it was a very satisfying series and a good ending. 

  • Anonymous

    It just occurred to me that Young missed a giant opportunity. I find that the his whole show hinted at/touched on his identity as a gay Korean-American man, but was strongly overshadowed and overwhelmed by the dead father stuff (especially in the discussion of the work and his artist’s statement). I think a better approach would have been to make the theme of the show that his father had died and then this show was a meditation on his identity in this new, fatherless, phase of his life as a gay, Korean-American man. A lot of the objects in the show (father’s stuff, the platform) referenced Korean culture and then of course there was the photograph of his boyfriend. I think if it was more about an exploration of self (not an auto-biography but more like a really extended self portrait of this specific time in his life) with his dad’s death as the impetus or starting point, it would have been so much better. The more I think about it the more the photo of his mom in the platform on the beach and the photo of his boyfriend seemed the most successful and could have been combined with a lot more photographs and maybe sculpture/found objects that were more reflective and less archival. 

  • Anonymous

    I sincerely hope this is the last season of this show. I find exploiting the death of your parent for a television show to be abhorrent. Times two.

    • Anonymous

      I think that’s a bit harsh. Instead of hoping for a show that we all love to end, maybe you should just stop watching. The judges have made it very very clear that they value personal art, and as an artist one of the best ways to make your art personal is to express personal loss and pain. To call someone’s sincere form of self-expression a kind of exploitation means that you are not trying hard enough and are make a lot of assumptions about the artist’s character. I don’t mean to attack you but this is the best way I can articulate my response to this comment. 

  • Anonymous

    You’re too generous, Young’s flea market ode to his dad was not very creative.  I would have been happy with Sara J or Kymia.  Both are true artists and I would buy their work in a heartbeat.  In fact, I think I am going to check our Kymia’s prints right now.  marry Christmas me!

  • Anonymous

    At the risk of being completely off-topic, Merry Christmas T-Lo!  Hope you are wearing something trimmed in white faux-fur!  🙂

  • Anonymous

    T Lo –last night after our Christmas dinner we came home and finally watched the finale, which somehow snuck by me when it first aired. Your comments are so right on the mark and helpful. I just read them outloud to my husband. Your remarks about what was more distant, what was most involving, and what the artists were ‘working through’ makes so much sense. Thank you –I feel like I can really close this season in a satisfying way, and it was a very satisfying season, more so than last perhaps. 

  • Scott Hester-Johnson

    The problem with Young’s work is that it was NOT his idea. He was doing something completely different until Simone clicked on the shirts in his studio.

    This is the thing that makes me craziest about this show; that someone will change their entire tack or aesthetic based on a random comment by a judge. If it’s your art, it should be YOUR art.

    • I feel like Young’s finale show was the same images he submitted to get on the show, only they were sewn to his dad’s old shirts. While the ideas of items made from his dad’s possessions was interesting in a hoarding/repurposing way, I think they should have transcended pots and vases and gone to bigger totems or something.

      Sarah had some interesting ideas, but her sculptures just seemed very Art School 101 to me. Thousands of paper cranes used with a bird cage, while beautiful, just seems to obvious and trite to me. To me, it’s no different than Dusty’s cootie catcher art. Same goes for the hairshirt-lingerie and the hypodermic needle-bedsprings.

      Kymia was the only winner for me, and her 2D art was superior to her 3D pieces.

    • Scott:

      Thank you!  I have to admit to being very late to the party, but THIS:

      The problem with Young’s work is that it was NOT his idea. He was doing something completely different until Simone clicked on the shirts in his studio.

      Until Simone’s visit, Young was going in a completely different direction with his exhibit.  Simone didn’t like what Young had done, and suggested that Young create an exhibit with the items in his father’s collection.  Had Young gone with his original idea, he almost certainly would have been in third place–where I still think he belonged.

  • I just wanted to add that at least in my view, WoA Season 2 was generally a success in regard to the conversations and thoughts it has drawn out. 

  • Ugh. “Corpse fucking for fun and profit” should be the title. Art can be moving without propping up your dead loved ones in a gallery, people!