“Slow Living, by which I mean taking the time to attend to the social and perceptual complexities of everyday phenomena, is a major focus of my work. My process of painting and drawing demands a prolonged, contemplative enactment. I labor over detailed scenes that require pauses to let paper stretch, paint dry, and to pull back and gauge the sense of the piece as a whole. In these works, I endeavor to de-familiarize quotidian environments like the home space and mundane acts like cleaning, organizing, and feeding in order to showcase erased or marginalized labors and their actors.
These themes acquired increased significance for me during the spring of 2020. I lost my lecturer and artist-in-residence positions due to COVID-19 cuts at my university. I subsequently eked out a livelihood in a job that prioritized simultaneously slow and fast living: cutting produce at a regional supermarket. Those with whom I shared this forever incomplete, un-monumental labor that Simone de Beauvoir calls “immanence” were all women and predominantly women of color like myself.
Rather than rejecting these forms of working and existing, my paintings and drawings dwell on the motions and gestures of women of color removed from the contexts of service jobs and instead considered as expressions of self-maintenance and relating to the world. By portraying these figures in poses absurd and contemplative, their bodies fragmented and dispersed by color, light, and shadow, I endeavor to draw attention to the complex ways in which women of color inscribe their places within and against their environments. Rather than being monumental or world-shifting, in the spirit of Cruel Optimism author Lauren Berlant, I explore such ongoing and unfolding processes as the means by which people, especially those considered marginalized like women of color, become in relation to time, space, and others.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Ambrin Ling is a Chicago-based artist, academic, and educator who describes her interdisciplinary practice as “works on paper” in the sense of both noun/object and verb/action. As a person of mixed Chinese, Pakistani, and Scottish descent, she is interested in mining paper and other materials with vibrant cross-cultural and international histories in relation to themes of place, power, and belonging. As a person who identifies as female, she is also concerned with exploring the cultural, racial, and ethnic threads of these materials and objects as braided, in the words of The Intimacies of Four Continents scholar Lisa Lowe, with gendered forms of labor, desirability, and selfhood.
Ling’s works have been included in numerous group and solo exhibitions, such as ARC Gallery (Chicago, IL) and Manifest Galleries (Cincinnati, OH), and have received awards and recognitions, including the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant and Purchase Award. She has participated in artist residencies focused on the artist’s interactions with a community, including the HUB-BUB Artist Residency through the Chapman Cultural Center and Hashinger Hall Artist Residency through the University of Kansas. In order to more deeply entwine her visual arts with the historical, philosophical, aesthetic, and sociological dimensions of her practice, she will be entering the University of Chicago’s Master of Humanities Program with focuses on Race, Culture, and Politics, as well as Women and Gender Studies, in the fall of 2021.
© Ambrin Ling