Krista Svalbonas is a mixed-media artist based in Pennsylvania. She holds a BFA degree in photography and design from Syracuse University and an interdisciplinary MFA degree in photography, sculpture, and design from SUNY New Paltz. Benefiting from this extensive training in a wide range of media, Svalbonas experiments with traditional materials in unexpected ways. She is heavily influenced by the effect of architectural form and structure on the psychology of the human environment.
Svalbonas recently completed a site specific permanent installation at the Vilnius Gediminas Technical University in Lithuania . She has exhibited at the Spartanburg Art Museum in South Carolina; Redline, Space Gallery and Dairy Center of the Arts, Colorado; Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Matteawan Gallery, Opus Projects, The Painting Center, Trestle Gallery, ISE Cultural Foundation, and BWAC, New York; Watchung Art Center and George Segal Gallery, New Jersey; Monterey Peninsula Art Gallery and Wall Gallery, California; and Tubac Center For The Arts, Arizona. She is in the permanent collection of the Cesis Art Museum in Latvia. Svalbonas is a recipient of a Bemis Fellowship, and of residencies from Cooper Union, Vermont Studio Center, and the New Arts Program. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Photography at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
Ideas of home and dislocation have always been compelling to me as the child of parents who arrived in the United States as refugees. Born in Latvia and Lithuania, my parents spent many years after the end of the Second World War in displaced-persons camps in Germany before they were allowed to emigrate to the United States. My family’s displacement is part of a long history of uprooted peoples for whom the idea of “home” is contingent, in flux, without permanent definition and undermined by political agendas beyond their control. Perhaps as a result, I am fascinated by the language of spatial relationships and by the impact of architectural form and structure on the psychology of the human environment.
Photography also plays a key role in this history of displacement: photographs were among the few possessions my family was able to take with them when they fled the Russian occupation. Photographs documented a home and a country that most Baltic refugees, including my parents, thought they would never see again. I was raised on these visual memories, and the accompanying stories of a “homeland” that remained distant and inaccessible — until the unimaginable happened in 1991, when the Baltic states regained their freedom.
Complicated by this family history, my definition of home constantly oscillates between past and present. “Migrator” began with photographs I took in the three locations I have called home in the past eight years: the New York metro area, rural Pennsylvania, and Chicago. Each image is a visual sketch of the genius loci of the landscape at a particular moment in my history. Images are printed on dibond and CNC routed and reassembled in sets of three. I constructed sculptural planes in mdf at various heights and angles thereby creating hybrid structures that reinterpret and reinvent architecture, disrupting space, light, and direction. “Migrator” turns an analytical gaze on the architecture of my past and present while offering a personal reflection on the nature of home.
To view more of Krista’s work please visit her website.