UPSTATE Gallery on Main

Ambrin Ling

No Real Desire

May 24 – June 28, 2019
Reception: Thursday, June 20, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.


UPSTATE Gallery on Main is honored to present “No Real Desire,” a selection of recent works by HUB-BUB artist-in-residence Ambrin Ling. The exhibition opens on May 24 and runs through June 28, 2019. An artist reception will be held on June 20 from 5-8 p.m. during Spartanburg ArtWalk.

“No Real Desire” presents a series of landscapes, figurative paintings, and text-based works. The exhibition asks what it means to be the object of “real desire?” Materials often designated as low-value or mundane—watercolor paints, paper, and grass stains culled from lawn clippings—make up each piece. The work presents desire as a series of contradictions: poetic lines written in dripping grass juices and clippings, seductive cinematic stills and beautiful environments, yet devoid of that most revered of subjects, the human form.

“I am interested in how object and image-making not only reinforces perception, but can also recalibrate it,” Ling said. “While I utilize classical representational techniques, my attention is not on the monumental or spectacular but instead on that which is marginalized, peripheral, or assigned low-value.”

Utilizing wall texts and appropriated imagery from the 2016 film “Moonlight,” “No Real Desire” challenges perceptions of value, power, and centrality as they relate to what spaces are pictured and who is shown. In doing so, it asks us to question our desires as consumers of media-like images, objects, and the written word. Sometimes apparent absence is not a lack, but instead suggests resistance to fetishizing gazes and the fixation on the marginalized body of color; sometimes landscapes are not harmless and romantic nods to the past, but imply framing and controlling environmental forces and peoples. By moving through the languages of abstraction and representation, text and image, and contemporary and historical media appropriation, Ling folds desire into broader explorations of identity, race, gender, and sexuality.

About the Artist

Ling is a multimedia artist whose practice falls under an expanded notion of “works on paper”— drawing, painting, sculpture, and installation. While she references historical art modes such as landscape and traditional representational techniques, her work aims to slow down and complicate the ways in which viewers perceive written and visual languages as they frame identity, presence, and value. She received her Bachelor of the Arts from Carleton College in Minnesota and her Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Ling’s work has been included in national and international exhibitions, including ARC Gallery in Chicago and Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has also participated in several artist residencies including her current HUB-BUB Artist Residency and an upcoming Vermont Studio Center Artist Residency. She has received honors for her work, including the Elizabeth Greenshield’s Foundation Grant.


The UPSTATE Gallery on Main is the newest addition of the Upstate Carolina University’s three gallery spaces. Located at 172 E. Main Street in Spartanburg, it is a dedicated art space that presents rotating exhibitions of regional and national artists. The gallery also houses and periodically displays the university’s permanent art collection, including works by Andy Warhol, Jerry Uelsmann, Jack Tworkov, and Beatrice Riese. The gallery is primarily staffed by students as part of an ongoing internship program where they learn how to display, research, and promote the work on exhibit in the gallery. It is open to the public five days a week (Tuesday-Saturday) from 12 noon until 5 p.m. More about the UGoM can be found on its Facebook page, UPSTATE Gallery on Main, or by calling Jane Nodine, Gallery Director at (864)-503-5848.


Jane Nodine, Gallery Director
Mark Flowers, Gallery Coordinator
University of South Carolina Upstate
Visual Arts Center 125
800 University Way
Spartanburg, SC 29303
P: 864-503-5848
F: 864-503-5835