First, the good news: I'm happy that Abdi won. I think he has the greatest breadth of vision and technical facility of all the contestants, and I wish him all the best.
Having said that, I really think that this series failed as a competition that tried to cast itself in the same mold as Project Runway, Top Chef, and Top Design. In my view, art is not suitable for this format, because it is such a subjective art form. All of us can envision wearing an outfit we see on the runway, tasting a dish, or living in a professionally designed room, and we live with our wardrobes, our food, and our house decorations every day - but how many of us think about or create art every day? Also, not only can we envision wearing the outfit or eating the food, but we can easily follow along with the judges when they say technical skill is well done or lacking; when a dress is well constructed, say, or a dish shows different harmonious flavors. I feel as if I am learning something about dressmaking and cooking every time I watch those shows, even though I will most likely never sew a dress or make a roulade.
I wanted to learn something from "Work of Art," too. Perhaps it might have succeeded better if it had taught us more about some of the techniques the artists were using, such as screen printing or photo manipulation or sculpture armatures. We all like to see how something is done (witness the popularity of the many "how it's made" shows), even if we never intend to do it ourselves; one of the fascinations for me with Project Runway and Top Chef is seeing how the outfits and the dishes come together, and learning new terms, such as "chiffonade." It does not take away from the mystery; in fact, it increases my admiration for the people who are skilled in these fields.
With no explanation of technique in "Work of Art," and its seemingly overarching focus on "concept," we were left with judging the challenge projects only subjectively - as to how they made us feel (if they made us feel anything). It's not that I believe I have to like everything I see to appreciate it, but art is such a slippery experience, a few footholds from the experts would have been welcome.