Abdi Farah has quickly moved from long hours in Penn’s art studios to long hours in a New York City studio with Bravo’s new show Work of Art: the Next Great Artist.

A 2009 College graduate and former Daily Pennsylvanian opinion artist, Farah studied fine arts at Penn and is now engaged in a new art project: competitive reality television.

The show features 14 of the “art world’s most talented, up-and-coming artists in New York” in competition for an art show at the Brooklyn Museum and a $100,000 cash prize, according to a Bravo press release.

At 23 years old, Farah is the youngest of the 14 contestants. His youth and proximity to college have allowed him to translate the skills he learned at Penn directly to his work on the show, he said.

While pursuing his honors fine arts thesis, Farah felt that the program was “very vigorous” and the teachers were “very demanding.”

“I was angry at [my teachers] because I thought they were too hard on me and didn’t understand me,” Farah said.

Now, as he is faced with various challenges in all mediums on Work of Art, he recognizes that the rigor of his thesis and Penn’s Fine Arts Program in general prepared him well for the show.

“I want to send my teachers flowers or a fruit basket or something to thank them for being so hard on me, because it prepared me,” he said.

Farah also has an advantage over his competitors in that he is used to the “weird” aspects of the show from his experience with college life, such as staying up late to do work and eating at abnormal hours. Participating in the show is “similar to being in college,” he said, and this acts to his advantage.

The Fine Arts Program also alerted Farah about the Work of Art casting call this past summer. At the time, he was living in Philadelphia and working for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.

Farah was unsure of his career options when he graduated, but he knew that he wanted to work in art.

Once he was accepted on the show, however, he was able to stop worrying about not having a job. As a result of his position, he felt “free and unencumbered” to do the show.

Farah’s art is largely an expression of his “love for people,” he said. “I’m interested in how beautiful the human body is and the kinds of things athletics do for the body visually.”

Fine Arts professor Joshua Mosley co-taught Farah’s intensive year-long senior seminar.

“I imagine that the show will produce work and encourage artists in a way that will be foreign to the complex role that visual art has within culture,” Mosley wrote in an e-mail.

Even so, he said, “This is Abidi, who was trained at Penn in fine arts, so let’s back him! He has what it takes to remain Abdi.”

Farah called the show an “amazing experience” that has restored his faith in reality television. “I am very impressed by the seriousness of the production company, the host, the judges and the contestants,” he said.

Work of Art: the Next Great Artist will debut on June 9 at 11 p.m. on Bravo.

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