Baltimore’s own Abdi Farah, a graduate of the Carver Center for Arts and Technology, won the first season of Bravo’s Work of Art: The Next Great Artist. His prize? A solo exhibit at the famed Brooklyn Museum—and a sit-down for the Baltimore Grill.
Who is your favorite Baltimorean, living or dead?
Most definitely my grandmother, Cleo Stewart, but Ray Lewis is a close second.
What is the best advice you ever got?
Every day, when I left for school, my mom would say to me, “Do something nice for someone.” Not sure I will ever get a better piece of advice.
When were you most tempted to leave Baltimore?
Probably the first time I rode the subway in New York. I instantly realized how wack our subway system is. (Ours is much cleaner, though.)
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Whoa! I would hope someone handsome, but it would probably be Gonzo from the Muppets. (Or maybe Don Cheadle? He’s a great actor.)
What is your guilty pleasure?
Dipping Oreos in Nutella. Staying up super late for no reason. Listening to pop music. Flexing in the mirror. Watching good romantic comedies. Seeing just how much I can write off on my taxes.
If you could write Baltimore’s motto, what would it be?
Baltimore: The realest place on Earth!
What was the hardest part about being on Work of Art?
Balancing your desires to be as ambitious as possible with a pragmatic realization of the constraints of each challenge. Also, it is difficult and crucial to stay completely focused on the art.
You kind of stayed away from the drama. Is that your personality in general?
Absolutely. I hate conflict of all kinds. It is paralyzing to me. The second I would have entered some of the drama, I would have been off the show, because I would have been completely impotent as an artist. I need purity to work.
How do you think growing up in Baltimore shaped you as an artist?
Baltimore will always be a major part of my identity as an artist. There is so much beauty as well as ugliness in this city. More importantly, I think people from Baltimore are some of the most genuine and loyal people on the planet. There is a real integrity to the people in this city, and I hope my work always has that integrity and honesty in it.