Attention reality-TV junkies (and even those who’ve never watched it): A week from today (June 9), look for C’09 Abdi Farah‘s debut on Work of Art. Similar to some of Bravo’s other reality-competition offerings (think Top Chef and Project Runway), the show pits 14 contestants–all stand-outs in the art world–against one another, eliminating them one by one, week by week. The last artist standing will receive “a solo show at a nationally recognized museum and a generous cash prize,” according to Bravo.
I spoke to Abdi a few weeks ago for an article that will appear in the July/August Gazette. Here are a few tidbits to hold you over until then. (And you can also check out Bravo’s “Get to Know Abdi” video or visit his website.):
–At just 23 years old (22 when the show was filmed last fall), Abdi is the youngest Work of Art competitor.
–Although the show hasn’t started airing yet, there is already an “i ❤ Abdi Farah” group on Facebook.
–Before coming to Penn, Abdi attended art-centered middle and high schools. By the time his college search began, “my world [had] just got[ten] so small,” he told me recently, “to a point where I was just this art fascist who didn’t see the point of doing anything other than art.”
–And so he came to Penn, where he was exposed to other students who were “just as interested in writing or in history or in science as I was in art. I felt that was necessary for me to grow as an artist,” he said.
–Abdi said he got on a “science fiction-inspired kick” in his senior year at Penn that coincided with Obama’s 2008 presidential win. Those two seemingly disparate interests resulted in “Intruder Alert,” a 7-by-11-foot painting of Obama racing through a spaceship, lightsaber in hand.
–For his Fine Arts senior thesis at Penn, Abdi dove still further into the sci-fi world. He went to costume and Halloween stores. He got a Netflix subscription and watched movies like Alien and Bladerunner and Star Wars. He even ordered a space helmet from China on eBay. “I was setting up these scenes, creating sets for them, buying costumes, and I’d stage these photo shoots,” he said. “It was a really fun way to work. That’s how the old master painters used to work–they were the movie directors of the day.”