Ambrin Ling: Hidden, Harmless, Human & Armando Roman: El Sol Infernal y la Semana Eterna

With Fawn Penn "A Pot is a Home" in the Milwaukee Ave. Window Gallery

Opening Friday, September 30th 5–9pm

Hidden, Harmless, Human

When are images considered safe? Who gets to be represented as human? Ambrin Ling’s works on paper— paintings, drawings, and sculptural installations all on fibrous mediums— respond to histories of innocuous image-making, particularly 18 th century American landscape art and domestic ornamentation. Rendering human figures, flowers, furniture, and natural vistas in bleeding watercolor pigments and on torn paper, she disturbs how these tame objects signify nation, the propertied citizen, and the sovereign self. In doing so, she reflects on how those considered objects of use, like land, like belongings, are in fact feeling, acting, vulnerable subjects, always inseparable from and in tension with their surroundings.

Ambrin Ling (she/they) received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MA in the Humanities from the University of Chicago. Her artwork has been included in numerous group and solo exhibitions, most recently at Woman Made Gallery and Northwestern University in Chicago, Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, and the Thelma Saddoff Cultural Center in Wisconsin. She has received awards for her work and has participated in multiple artist residencies, including at the Chapman Cultural Center in South Carolina, the University of Kansas, and the Vermont Studio Center.

El Sol Infernal y la Semana Eterna

The work in this show is a collision of two series of drawings completed in the past year. Since 2016, I have been researching Trump-era Border politics and the eight border wall prototypes, drawing my own interpretations of them. The walls, like the Trump administration as a whole, were a failed effort in preventing Central Amercans from crossing into the United States. My drawings celebrate the futility, absurdity, and stupidity of these prototype walls by neutering them of their harsh material properties. I began to understand that the border was not the true enemy to migrants – the sun was. In another series of drawings, based on Catholic processions that occur in my father’s hometown in Mexico, I render religious events in combination with a harsh, ever-present sun. The sun is eternal; it always follows us. The sun guides migrants but ultimately it asphyxiates them. I draw on the relationship between border-crossing, religiosity, and expressions of the self through these two bodies of work.

Armando Roman

I am an artist who makes work on paper. The paper varies, colored construction paper, rice paper, canvas. My work combines digital brushstrokes with physical marks made often with crayon, colored pencils, and washable markers. The Mexican landscape, both cultural and literal, is of particular interest to me. I make these drawings to better understand my own relationship to this landscape, which is simultaneously familiar and foreign to me. Familiar, in that countless stories have been retold to me of this place, where my father and mother are from. Foreign, in that I have no physical relationship to the country. There is no cultural specificity in my palette, or the patterns I employ to remove white space from my compositions. The colors are ambiguously placed, referencing what could be a specific identity-based aesthetic. I think about my compositions in terms of border and center. The center, typically drawn digitally, often does not interact with the border. There is a clear distinction between the two. The surrounding borders are drawn by hand, using a similar palate than its digital counterpart in the center. The relationship between border and center, and its eventual collapse in the work, reflects the competing narrative that exists within my own relationship to Mexican culture.

A Pot is a Home

An offering made of the body,

Pinched by tender hands

And a weary heart.

Curl up and find a home in the belly of a pot,

like a mouse waiting for spring.

Fawn Penn is an artist currently living and working in Chicago. Fawn works primarily in clay, creating functional, sculptural, and performative work. In 2020, Fawn co-founded The Digs Chicago, a non-profit community ceramics studio. At The Digs, Fawn serves the role of studio manager, marketing, and occasional ceramics instructor. Fawn graduated with a BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Spring 2020, and is the 2020 recipient of the Center for Craft Windgate-Lamar Fellowship.