Work of Art: The Next Great Artist

Work of Art: The Next Great Artist

a viewing party near you!

June 9, 2010 11:00 PM - June 10, 2010


Mark your calendars and get your viewing parties together to watch our very own Nao Bustamante in her television debut June 9, 2010.

Nao's 5 fun tips for planning your "Work of Art: the Next Great Artist" viewing party!


'Work of Art: The Next Great Artist'

What: Reality show pits 14 artists against one another

When: First hourlong episode 11 p.m. Wednesday (6/9/10), future episodes at 10 p.m. Wednesdays

Network: Bravo

Information: work-of-art


All Over Albany interviews Nao:


And from the Times Union:

Art meets reality television: RPI professor among artists vying for recognition in Bravo channel series set to debut

By TOM KEYSER, Staff writer

Nao Bustamante, a professor in the arts department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was back in California visiting her mother last summer when the e-mails started arriving. Friends had heard about a new reality show involving artists, and they thought Bustamante, a performance and video artist, should audition.

"I didn't really think much about it," she recalls. "I actually forwarded them to a couple of other friends who I thought would be really great for the show. And then they decided to go and drag me along. I guess I wanted to be dragged along, but I didn't think it likely that I would be cast. I felt like the dark horse in the competition."

Dark horse or not, Bustamante got the part. On Wednesday, "Work of

Art: The Next Great Artist" will premiere on Bravo, and Bustamante, who has taught at RPI for nine years and lives in Troy,  will be one of 14 artists battling it out for $100,000 and a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum.

Another contestant is Judith Braun, an Albany native living in New York City. Like Bustamante, Braun is an artist in many media. She has two master's degrees from the University at Albany.

In each episode, as Bravo describes it, "contestants are faced with the challenge of creating unique pieces in a variety of mediums such as painting, sculpture, photography, collage and industrial design. 

Whether they are using a trash heap as their canvas or creating original cover art for a classic novel, the weekly assignments challenge the artists to push the limits of their technical skills and creative boundaries."

All the episodes have been filmed, and the winner determined, but Bustamante can't say who won or how she did. She lived the show, she says, but hasn't seen the final edits. That's a little scary, she says, laughing.

You can watch a preview at the Bravo website. The video contains those elements so familiar to  reality-show viewers: tears, shouting, arguing among contestants, searing comments by judges.

Bustamante is shown saying, seemingly exasperated, presumably to a judge: "I'm not responsible for your experience of my work."

In another part of the video a judge says to an unidentified contestant: "You give performance art a bad name." A contestant says, presumably to another contestant: "I don't want to work with your poisonous attitude." And a contestant says directly into the camera: "I don't even know why she came here."

So, Nao Bustamante, why did you want to be part of all that?

"I knew what I was signing up for," she says. "And I will say it was a very stressful situation to be in. I think a lot of us watch TV and say, 'Oh, if I were in that situation I wouldn't act that stupid.' But you just wait until you're in that situation."

She laughs again.

"I think it's particularly complex for artists, because many artists turn themselves inside out when they make art," she says. "It's really a vulnerable process to get at some core place either of process or thought, usually a combination of the two. ... I think that's one of the reasons why a lot of artists signed up for the show, to kind of pull back the veil on some of these mysterious processes and see how people function in that space."

She didn't plan on being an artist, she says. Growing up in San Joaquin, Calif., she took dance lessons. Then in college, while pursuing a major in agricultural economics, she took a modern dance class. She started writing, creating performance art and making videos and films.

Her website describes her art this way: "Bustamante's at times precarious and radically vulnerable work encompasses performance art, video installation, visual art, filmmaking, and writing."

She has exhibited in galleries, museums, universities and underground sites around the world, according to her website. Whether "Work of Art" helps her career remains to be seen.

"I'm not too concerned about that," she says. "I've been a practicing artist for years. I already have what you could call my contingency or audience or people who support my work. I do think a certain amount of attention will come from the show. But because it hasn't started, I don't know how to shape or steer that attention."

She plans to watch the episodes with friends and to tweet about it. 

She invites people to follow her comments at . However, she says, she will not under any circumstances reveal the outcome.

"People have been trying to get me to tell them," she says. "But, you know, I'm really happy with the outcome. And I love keeping secrets. 

So this combination just makes me feel like the Cheshire Cat."

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