“I am truly inspired by every aspect of the amazing world that we live in, and I strive to relish every person I meet and every occurrence I have the privilege of witnessing. I hope to be seen first, as a son of God, and everything else, including being an artist, is marginal. Art is, however, a beautiful gift that I have been given to share with the world.” ~Abdi Farah
I have a soul crush on Abdi Farah.
(I’m sorry there just wasn’t a more efficient way of saying that without sounding so heavy.) Watching one of my favorite shows, Bravo TV’s “Work of Art: The Next Great Artist” reminds me why I started crushing on the spirit of Abdi, last year’s winner. It’s clear that his inner light pulls him forward; this is why his career is so promising, his talent seems so effortless and, of course, why my spirit goes pitter pat, pitter pat.
One of my favorite artistic entrepreneurs, Anthony Q. Artiss, advises emerging artists, after getting their first taste of commercial success, to always be prepared for the next step. Abdi was ready. After his victory, he was on twitter, promoting his well-designed portfolio website featuring pieces that show sides of him we only started to see on television, like.
Ability to put 2 and 2 together—
I came to really appreciate Abdi as an artist during the nature challenge when artists created works inspired by the outdoors, using raw materials from the earth. Abdi knew he had to center himself for the challenge, so he prayed. After spiritually grounding himself, he made a connection with the water. Baptism spoke to him. He created a piece that was a meditation on rebirth.
Other-worldliness is a repeating theme in his work. Guest judge, David LaChappelle, admired the spirituality of one of his final pieces, “Home.” The work depicted an over-sized black garbage bag that contained a human body. When I saw this piece in person at the Brooklyn Arts Museum it gave me chills.
Despite the depth of his work, he still seems light-hearted and, generally, happy about life. Abdi reminds me of one of the guys I could have seen walking around my dorm with a sketchbook under his arm, eating cheese fries at 3am while watching “Chappelle’s Show” on his Mac. Throughout the competition, Abdi resisted common artistic stereotypes – he wasn’t narcissistic, tortured or indulgent. Others filled those roles (I won’t name names), but he didn’t let that energy rub off on him. Abdi was focused and determined, while being considerate and encouraging to the competitors he respected as colleagues and loved as friends.
Abdi had an air of grace and integrity that you wouldn’t expect a 23 year old to exhibit so effortlessly.
I’m grateful I had the chance to see a creative entrepreneur honor his spiritual journey in a way that wasn’t preachy or over the top, but sincere. For me, he led by example.
I am still so inspired, so full. It’s a worthy crush.
Kathryn Lou is chief writer and editress for Live Unchained Blogozine (liveunchained.com/blog) and developing an arts non-profit of the same name, featuring works by women across Africa and the diaspora. Artistry, entrepreneurship and spiritual wisdom inspire her writings. She is a doctoral student in sociology and stays PhD (pure, hungry and driven) when it comes to travel, yoga, and creative projects. Follow her on Twitter (twitter.com/kathrynlou9), check out her organization’s Facebook Page (facebook.com/iliveunchained) and drop her an e-mail ([email protected]) to keep the conversation going.