Becoming Undone - An Ambrin Ling Experience by HUB-BUB

Art squared image.jpg

As of April, I am now 8 months into my HUB-BUB artist residency at the Chapman Cultural Center. Over this time I’ve been immersing myself in a number of new and familiar artistic endeavors.

At the start of January, myself and my fellow Artist-in-Residence Marisa Adesman applied our painting practices about domesticity to a community engagement project. We have since been translating Spartanburg community members’ experiences of belonging, representation, and home, whatever they entail, into paintings that are also importantly a series of interactions between us, individuals, and the community at large. If you’d like to learn more about collaborating with us and seeing your own thoughts and experiences as a painting, I encourage you to visit for info about sharing your own images and stories.

On April 18th, I am excited to enter more uncharted territory as I collaborate with the Spartanburg Art Museum (SAM) during their ART² performances. The moment I walked through SAM’S current exhibition Tradition: Compounded, I knew I had to respond. Even when I’ve done paintings, sculpture, printmaking, digital art, and installation, I have always considered myself first and foremost a drawer, because mark-making— in black-and-white and color, representational and abstract— is the way I navigate my world. My upcoming performance will include drawing in familiar mediums like graphite and watercolor, but also more experimental papermaking and painting with fresh, lushly colored grass stains. So if you’re looking for something both traditional and experimental in terms of arts, culture, and entertainment, I welcome you to my performance Becoming Undone at SAM at 6pm this third Thursday.

For the remainder of my residency, a shocking 3 months, I intend to continue working in the spirit of collaboration. Whether these collaborations mean seeking the perspectives of socially-minded organizations and people for our community engagement project A Mosaic Portrait of Spartanburg, or working with other artistic minds and venues as I grow my own individual practice, I find the most meaningful artist residencies are ones that explore connections. For this year-long residency, I hope to connect to Spartanburg as a varied place and diverse individuals, and enable the people here to find connections to my own art making.

The Poster Challenge by HUB-BUB

By Kara Porter, Creative Placemaking Intern

Welcome to the Poster Challenge. The poster challenges the viewer to find a word in the word search, circle it on the poster, do whatever the action (word) is, then post it with #posterchallenges. There are three different versions of the poster hung up around downtown: Create A Moment of Joy, Create A Moment of Gratitude, and Create A Moment of Thrill. Try and find them all!


I grew up in Holly Springs, North Carolina and eventually my journey took me here to Spartanburg, South Carolina. In my three years here, I get excited with each new restaurant and storefront that opens up, and I’ve watched as the city has become increasingly active as a community. I noticed that a large part of the growth had been due to the contribution of pubic art (i.e. the lightbulbs of the Lighten Up Spartanburg project, murals). This public art got people excited about living in our wonderful city.

I knew in order to tackle this project; I’d need to do my research. I looked in to examples of public art installations and exhibits in similarly sized cities. I found inspiration in the purposes behind the pubic art I’d researched. I set out to increase community vitality, in other words, enhance the community’s enjoyment of our city. In other, other words:

I wanted to create an exhibit that brought people happiness.  


If I could make someone smile from my artwork, I had succeeded. 

But how could I make an exhibit that sparked this moment of happiness, and bring it into the community?  I settled on the idea of a poster. I know what you’re thinking: posters aren’t art, posters are posters. Traditionally, posters are not seen as art. Posters are usually just a vehicle of getting information to the public. I was interested in playing with this idea of reimagining the purpose of a poster, which instead prompted an interaction between the it and the viewer.

What 6 Plastic Chairs and a Fire-pit Taught me about Home by HUB-BUB

By Eric Kocher, Creative Placemaking & HUB-BUB Director

When selecting artists for the HUB-BUB residency, I almost never take into account how I, as a resident of Spartanburg—the community our program most directly serves—will be impacted by their work. Of course, I think about how I will work with them to bring their work to the community, and I think about how we will work together as colleagues, but not the way their work might reach me totally separate from my role as program director. Each year I'm surprised by how I have failed to consider this when I find myself moved, challenged, floored, and transformed by their work. This year is certainly no exception to this experience.


Our current artists-in-residence, Marisa Adesman and Ambrin Ling have undertaken a profound and, at times, staggering task of completing a painting a day from January to June through their project, A Mosaic Portrait of Spartanburg. For those of you doing the math, that's over 100 paintings each over the next few months. The final 200 or so paintings will be on display in an exhibition at the Artist Guild Gallery during the month of June. (Side note: If you can believe it, simultaneously they will be having a separate exhibition of other work at the USC Upstate Gallery on Main.) At the moment, the work they have completed so far is on display in the Creative Placemaking Studio, where you can come and visit their studios (and participate in this project—more on that here). 


The thing that makes this project so compelling to me, though, is not the labor that will go into the final product, but the subject that the project explores: home. On the surface, home might sound like an obvious or uncomplicated subject, but with only a gentle nudge from the artists, I found myself questioning and unpacking all of my ideas and assumptions. Marisa and Ambrin have asked community members to submit images, objects, and stories that communicate on some level how they understand "home" as it pertains to their experience living in Spartanburg. For lots of folks, this means family, pets, friends, and places of comfort. Home is, in that sense, warm, loving, and safe. These submissions then become transformed through the eyes of the artists into a kind of clarity and confusion, with a sincere hope of offering a truth contained in the original image, but with all of the questions that come with being a visitor to someone else's experience.


After watching the project grow, I realized that I had not submitted anything to them for this project, which led to me scrolling through the 6052 images (yikes) on my phone over the course of an hour and reflecting on places, people, and memories that have taken place here in Spartanburg. My partner, Audrey, and I, purchased our first home last year in Hampton Heights, so my first impulse was to send a picture of our work-in-progress, where my "home office" currently also serves as our "woodshop," but, I wanted to send something that elicited an emotional experience that I couldn't explain, something I hoped the artists might help me articulate.


 I ended up sending an image I took on July 2, 2015, when Audrey and I were living in a rental house a few blocks over from where we are now. We had only been living there a few months and were still settling in. The image was taken in the backyard after I spent an afternoon constructing a makeshift fire pit and surrounding it with 6 green and teal chairs (3 of each) I bought at Lowes. Proud of my work and pleased by the simple aesthetic composition the alternating colors created, I took a picture and went about my day. That fire pit, when it wasn't too hot, or wet, or windy, provided us with many evenings with friends, a place to sit and reflect after a long day, and, occasionally, someplace to burn the unwanted, unneeded, and unused.


Ambrin took this image and ran with it. On the one hand, the painting she created is totally familiar to me, when I look at it, I see someplace with a deep personal meaning, populated by moments and people and byzantine web of feelings. On the other hand, I see something totally new, a kind of suburban gothic with a near cultish hue. In her narrative, I imagine an alternate version of my life, where my nights were spent worshipping some god or goddess of commercial domesticity, where I walked up and down Main St. with glossy catalogues asking folks if they have seen the (energy-efficient) Light. Which is to say, looking at this image rendered into a new kind of clarity by Ambrin, I see a part of my life that was always there that remained mostly invisible to me. I see myself as outlined by my blind spots. In addition to thinking about what took place in that yard during my brief tenure as its keeper, I now think about all the things that did not, all the people who I did not share that space with, and the other things that space could be, or mean. 


 At our house now, those same chairs sit stacked up collecting dirt and spider webs, largely unused and ignored (perhaps the kind of thing, if not made of plastic, that would have been sacrificed at the alter they previously surrounded). Audrey and I jokingly refer to our new yard as a blank slate. Before our dog, Leika, got her paws on it, it was mostly just grass. We talk about plans to build a real woodshop or to put down a patio with another (nicer) fire pit. We talk about things that could happen there and people we would like to share it with. And while I feel grateful for the opportunity to see this space as its potential to be another space, I also feel silly for not seeing it now for the space that is. Without this project, I'm not sure I would have ever arrived at that understanding. 

So this is my challenge to you: take 30 minutes out of your day and browse through wherever you keep your photos. Look for the ones that make you feel something. Look for the ones that make you ask questions. Look for the ones that mean something to you and send them our way. I promise you this project has something to teach each of us. And, come June, at the final exhibition, when we look at all of the 200 or so paintings together, at the ways they intersect and depart from each other, at the places and moments and people they envelop, we might also learn something bigger and more complicated about what it means to be living here together. 

The ballad of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow by David Ocasio

The formal garden at Marble House. The architect who designed this garden, Charles Downing Lay, also worked on some major projects in NYC including Battery Park, Bryant Part, & Madison Square Park!

The formal garden at Marble House. The architect who designed this garden, Charles Downing Lay, also worked on some major projects in NYC including Battery Park, Bryant Part, & Madison Square Park!

I spent three weeks in October at an artist residency program in Dorest, Vermont called the Marble House Project (MHP). While it was tough to temporarily leave behind my brand-new Spartanburg community, this residency was an invaluable opportunity for many reasons, and I am very grateful to have gotten the chance to participate.

An aerial shot of the marble quarry from a drone.

An aerial shot of the marble quarry from a drone.

MHP brought together 8 artists, each incredibly talented and accomplished in their respective fields. In my group, there were three visual artists, a musician, a poet, a dancer/choreographer/director, a filmmaker, and a chef.

We were a diverse group, but all shared a passion for our craft, and we quickly connected with one another over dinner each night. It is MHP’s mission to foster multi-disciplinary collaboration and exchange, and this is especially supported by the ‘family-dinners’ each night. Each resident was paired with another resident and cooked dinner for the whole group 3 times throughout the program. We were encouraged to harvest ingredients for our meals from their gorgeous, small-scale organic farm (we had so much squash!). Dinners often carried on late into the night as we got lost in lively conversation ranging from our art projects, to Britney Spears, to politics, to leeches, and everything in between.

I told you – SO much squash (well, ‘tis the season). Left: an assortment of beautiful squash harvested from the farm.

I told you – SO much squash (well, ‘tis the season). Left: an assortment of beautiful squash harvested from the farm.

Our creative attempt to try to use as much of said squash as possible. Pictured is 500 acorn squash cookies with chocolate chips and sea salt.

Our creative attempt to try to use as much of said squash as possible. Pictured is 500 acorn squash cookies with chocolate chips and sea salt.

Participating in MHP was also paramount for the completion of filming this big project that I am working on in collaboration with another painter, Christian Berman. We are in the middle of creating a magical-realist, feminist fairytale film that will be exhibited this coming March in London. The grounds of MHP were stunning and fit as the perfect set for one of our characters. With over 38 acres, the property was replete with formal gardens designed in Italianate style, two abandoned marble quarries (closed since 1870 and now overrun with nature), a chicken coup, a small farm, and not to mention, all with the scenic Green Mountains as a backdrop! This magnificent location became our stage as we filmed our remaining scenes, and we let our imaginations embrace the possibilities of our new setting. Some fun scenes we were inspired to add were body painting my character to camouflage with the marble quarry and spinning on this large rotating marble bench while serving hors d’oeuvres.

Marble quarry camouflage.

Marble quarry camouflage.

I owe a big thank you to Marble House project for supporting our project and for creating a space where artists can feel supported by community and creative networks can grow. And I owe a huge thank you to the Chapman Cultural Center for recognizing this important opportunity in my artistic career, and for allowing me to see it through. I am so excited to be back here and working on fostering connections and opportunities within my new Spartanburg community.

To see the initial trailer for our film, check out this link:

I made pizza dinner one night with another resident.

I made pizza dinner one night with another resident.

Can you find the mini-fridge? My collaborator and I painted a faux-marble effect of a mini-fridge for a scene in our film. This prop is now in my studio in the Chapman Cultural Center, so be sure to come check it out!

Can you find the mini-fridge? My collaborator and I painted a faux-marble effect of a mini-fridge for a scene in our film. This prop is now in my studio in the Chapman Cultural Center, so be sure to come check it out!

Spinning on the marble bench while holding trays of hors d’oeuvres.

Spinning on the marble bench while holding trays of hors d’oeuvres.

Even the chickens got a cameo appearance in our film!

Even the chickens got a cameo appearance in our film!

Influenced by the Environment Around Me by David Ocasio

Written by Ambrin Ling - 2018/19 HUB-BUB AiR

When asked how long it’s been since I arrived in Spartanburg and began my term as an Artist-in-Residence through Hub-Bub, my answer of two months in counting feels both too long and too short a measure. 

IMG_7937 copy.JPG

With Hub-Bub director Eric Kocher as our guide, Marisa— my fellow AiR— and I have taken tours of the Spartanburg Regional Hospital, spoken about our goals for our residencies on the City Hall podcast, and biked the Rail Trail with Partners for Active Living.  We’ve gotten into touch with local artists, nature conservationists, college profs, members of Spartanburg organizations, and other downtown denizens too great a number and variety to list here.  Not to mention my recurrent run-ins with regulars of Little River Coffee Bar.  And yes, I count myself among them.  

AiR at Lucy Boland.jpeg

Settling into the Creative Placemaking Studios at the Chapman Cultural Center, I’m excited to expand on these encounters and make new ones.  The white walls of my studio have slowly begun to take the (constructively chaotic) look of an artist space.  Notes with research into OneSpartanburg and from the Johnson Collection library and their archive of Southern art hang side by side with the beginnings of my new paintings and sculptures.

I especially look forward to inviting people into our studios once November rolls in to talk about mine and Marisa’s plans for projects that engage the community.  It is my belief that community-centered art, especially by an artist who is new to the area, should not only respond to the needs and desires of people living there— it should also be a learning process, a way for the artist to become part of their new environment as well.   


As a newcomer to South Carolina and Spartanburg, such is my goal.  It is hard to express all the appreciation I feel for the friendliness, dog abundancy, craft beer abundancy, and unconditional helpfulness of those around me.  With the sense of welcome unknowing mobile Artists-in-Residence know so well, I anticipate myself and my art in Spartanburg— at the present moment and for the months to come— changing and being changed by it. 

HUB-BUB adds Creative Placemaking Intern - Sheridan Kate by David Ocasio

Hi! My name is Sheridan Kate Murray, and I am serving as the Creative Placemaking Studio intern for this fall semester. I’m an Asheville, NC native and a senior at Wofford, pursuing a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a B.A. in Art History. I’ve got a passion for community engagement, and am experienced with art-making, so all things considered, this internship seemed like a great fit. In my art-making practice, I tend to focus heavily on how sense of self and sense of place are often intertwined, and this is a concept I hope to pursue with this internship. I am really intrigued by the Creative Placemaking initiative as someone who comes from an area with a budding arts and cultural scene and a strong sense of place-rooted pride.


It’s my firm belief that art is a universal right, something that should be made accessible to everyone, and I also believe that exposure to creative moments is also an amazing way to increase community involvement. A quote I come back to time and time again in my own life is by Howard Zinn, and it reads, “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” If done right, I believe I can absolutely apply this time-tested quote to my time as Creative Placemaking intern.


My personal goal is to ultimately walk away from this internship feeling confident that I have a sense of how to best serve a place like Spartanburg through art and creative engagement. This goal will likely be accomplished through the design, production and implementation of community art installations in the cultural center, meant to encourage all visitors to enjoy an art-making experience that will also enable them to feel that they’ve contributed in a meaningful way to the place they call home. Another angle for community involvement will come from the artists in residents that will be calling Spartanburg home themselves for a few months, and ultimately will be leaving their own creative marks on this unique town.


Last week, I had the chance to sit down with the Cultural Center’s artists-in-residence, Marisa and Ambrin, and got to pick their brain about their individual artistic pasts as well as the unique reasons that drew them to Spartanburg. Ambrin, an artist from the Chicago area, specializes in works on paper that range from paintings and drawings as well as sculptures and installations as of late. Ambrin has been really interested in the idea of place, and how place can relate to identity and belonging and how these concepts can be applied to certain groups of people. She’s also really interested in creating works of art that require both artists and viewers to reevaluate what it can mean to truly “belong” in a space. Ambrin was drawn to the Cultural Center because she, like myself, is really interested in the concept of making place-themed art in a place she is relatively unfamiliar with. She’s most excited to work in a shared space with Marisa while also pursuing her individual projects.

Marisa, a painter and Long Island native, fostered a sense of performative art early on in her artistic career, eventually allowing this instinct to point her in the direction of performance art itself. Her work has been based around food and gender, and how these topics can interact. She recently has been interested in domestic spaces surrounding food, and how food signifies so many social and cultural components of a society. Marisa has been exploring these themes through performance art lately, as well as photorealistic paintings and movies. Marisa was also drawn to the Cultural Center because of the dualistic nature of the fellowship, involving working collaboratively on a project while also pursuing her own independent projects. The idea of being somewhere for a year is something that has also drawn her to this residency, as many other programs don’t allow enough time to really plug into a place.


Sitting down with the artists-in-residence has made me even more excited to be involved in this internship. It’s rare that a college student gets to interact with practicing artists on a professional level at all, much less inspiring artists like these two ladies that are also focused on a sense of place in their own work. I look forward to the coming weeks, in which I will be developing community-based art installations for the Cultural Center that will hopefully interact with and respond to the work of the artists-in-residence in some way!

Former AiR's selected as Juried Semifinalists in ArtPrize 2018 by David Ocasio

2015 Artists-in-Residence Robin Schwartzman, Desiree Moore, and Anna Abhau Elliott are still building community through dynamic arts and ideas.

They recently launched a new public art project called “Barter Boat”

Barter Boat is an art project that looks like a carnival stand, where you can trade for small art assemblages made out of previously bartered items from different cities. They were most recently at ArtPrize 2018.

Photo by Sean Deckert

Photo by Sean Deckert

The project is made by the three alums, who were recently selected as Juried Semifinalists in ArtPrize 2018, alongside some other great artists (and out of literally hundreds of other entries). Check out their Instagram too - radar_art

Are you a former AiR makin' moves?

Let us know so we can feature your work!