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Competing with Nature

Jeanne talks about the Survivor-style challenge, critiques Peregrine's sculpture, and explores Miles's art-making process.

It's hard to compete with nature.

The image of a chicly caped China presenting the challenge before a bleary-eyed, yet expectant crew of five had the aura of a Survivor episode (although I have never seen one, but I am imagining.) At the edge of the woods, each artist stood ready for combat, that is until they learned that they had to incorporate an element of the wood in their work. Among the finalists, Nicole was seemingly the only one poised to survive.

Nicole, our hunter and gatherer, attacked the challenge from the positive. Most comfortable in nature, she happily collected her seeds and nuts, her molds came out "perfect," and she was confident with her modest sculpture. While attracted to her sunny side, I yearned for more content. Her Native American ancestry was of interest to us all, yet there was very little to grasp through her mound entitled, "Mic Mac." When put on the spot, she filled in with scant family narrative. While her breadth of material and process guided her well, I was waiting for a stronger voice.

If Nicole's illuminated ball within its dwelling gave off little energy, so did Jaclyn's rock. I'm embarrassed remarking about its inner beauty. Meant as a Duchampian comment, it aired as hippy-dippy stupid. We are asked by the producers to come up with positive comments alongside our negative ones, and often it's a stretch, yet gets played. (Thank you Jerry for commenting in his Culture Vulture blog that I have not been "getting a fair shake in the editing.")

I was irritated that the other artists did not support Jaclyn's "off hours" photograph. Were they really threatened, or just being petty? Peregrine's smirk struck me as haughty and mean-spirited. Why not break some pact? I am sure all the artists spent time thinking about their work at night - how far away is this from snapping a photo? Ah, to draw a line. But, then again, Jaclyn might have recreated the photo in the studio.



We had a much more vital conversation with Peregrine's sculpture, described as a "girl mother-nature," than shown. To me, the sculpture was both Daphne, the nymph who changed into a tree in order to escape a pursuing Apollo, and a self-portrait of Peregrine in stance and posture. We discussed the work feeling unfinished, functioning as a maquette. We could imagine it better in bronze, or another material even. The work as a site of teenage sex and drugs seemed less than personal, placing Peregrine as a voyeur. There was no denying that it had another life, and that it was the seed to something much bigger, and Jerry was clear in wanting more.

On the show I say that Miles's work is without humor. Yet, behind the scenes he projects a sinister wit. His obsession with poisonous or dangerous materials pops up episode after episode, and his hole poking contraption was, in retrospect, rather absurd. I stand corrected, his humor is hidden behind a dry practice. Miles starts with a kernel of an idea, and then grows it out. This additive approach can be limiting if the starting idea, in this case the parasitic fungus, is all you have. Especially given his self-described incapacity to go beyond a set system. Hoping he breaks out of his mold (ha, ha).

The blogs are filled with harsh comments about Miles, and disappointment that we are so taken with him. I do enjoy watching a sly Miles at play and his small manipulations. But, this is not charm school. Our judgments are based on the final works, and on occasion, when faced with a draw, we do revisit the crits.

Now onto the winning work by Abdi. I admit to being worried that in my absence he might be kicked off, and was glad Bill heard my whisper from afar.

Unlike the others, Abdi took his time to meditate in nature. We have seen him run around here and there, and this time he was steered by a quiet calm. Even in his Jockeys, his drawing maintained a regal quality. His look to God comment made sense when he described his processional self-portrait as a Baptism. I am glad he redeemed himself. Hopefully he will freshen up on Plato and Socrates, while keeping his God in tow for the finale.

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