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. 

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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.  

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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.   

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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.