Michelle, Work Of Art

Jerry Saltz picked Work of Art contestant Michelle Matson to win the whole thing — her first two pieces "The Eternal Woodsman" and "Dirty Playground" made her a frontrunner early on. But when she was faced with having to create something out of the pieces of a Fiat 500, Matson's anthropomorphic vision of a happy/sad car got her nothing but the boot. While traveling abroad, the 29-year-old Brooklyn artist who specializes in unusual paper-based creations, told TVGuide.com via e-mail about what went wrong, the Kymia controversy and her obsession with poop.

Jerry is pretty much devastated to have sent you home. Does that make you feel any better? He writes that behind the scenes, he really tried to save the entire bottom three.
Michelle Matson:
It makes me feel amazing to have such a well-regarded critic in my corner -- even if I did end up getting sent home. However, I would have loved it if we were all allowed a pardon! Mental hiccup!!

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Were you surprised to have been cut? What did you think of the criticism of your piece? Why do you think Lola and Kymia were spared?
Matson:
I was surprised, but not shocked. I felt that the three of us made pretty poor pieces and in my opinion the criticism was fair. Someone had to be sent home.

Given a second chance, would you have stuck with your original human body made of car parts idea? Or the steamy, sinful car windows? (In his recap, Jerry writes that your first idea would have been your "best piece" yet.)
Matson:
In retrospect, I wish I had stuck with my original idea.  It was the piece I was most excited by and I think it would have turned out very well. 

Why do you think you second-guessed yourself this week? Even when Simon didn't seem sold by your Diet Coke can in Pop Art Week, you stuck with it.
Matson:
Well, it's not as simple as all that. During the Pop Challenge I made a second piece which Simon and I discussed in depth. Simon is a very intelligent man and a convincing mentor. I respect his opinion, and wish I had made better choices for this challenge.

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Why did you and Lola ignore Kymia when she was asking to use the computers during Street Art Week? Why is everyone annoyed by her? Did you also stick stickers on her street art or was that just Lola?
Matson:
When a bunch of artists are working in close proximity to one another it generates a lot of noise and distraction -- you learn to tune stuff out in order to concentrate. It's like reading on the subway. I think Kymia was feeling the stress of the challenge and overreacted to a perceived slight. Lola and I directed the crowd to stick the stickers everywhere. There were stickers all over DUMBO. It was great -- the crowd was like a swarm of bees. I revisited the site recently and there are still little tiger cigarettes here and there, stuck under guardrails and on stop signs.

Which piece that you made on the show are you most proud of and why?
Matson:
Probably the kids challenge, I was really loving the grassy landscape and vines growing all over that piece.  It has really inspired my latest body of work -- it's a totally new direction for me. Nature!

Why poop? It was a subject you also wanted to return to during movement week.
Matson:
I love how the body works, it's this amazing perfect/imperfect thing. Birth, death, growth, digestion, cell regeneration, bodily failure, reproduction... it's all fascinating to me. Poop is one of those things that is equal parts necessary, gross and kinda enjoyable. Everyone feels better after a good poop.

What's next for you?
Matson:
I'm exhibiting some brand new pieces next month at this amazing artist-run project space: Youth Group Gallery in Brooklyn, New York. The opening is January 27th.