KRISTA SVALBONAS MIGRANTS
April 30 - May 30, 2015
OPUS Project Space is pleased to announce Krista Svalbonas’ first solo exhibition at OPUS Projects, "MIRGRANTS", at 526 West 26th Street #705, April 30 - May 38, 2015. Gallery hours are Saturdays 12 - 6 pm, and Thursday 6 - 8 pm. An opening reception will be held on Thursday April 30th / 6 - 8 pm.
“As the child of parents who arrived in the United States as refugees, ideas of home and dislocation have always been compelling to me,” says Svalbonas. “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. They spent most of their adult lives thinking they would never return to the countries – much less the homes -- of their childhood.” Svalbonas also became aware at an early age that her family’s displacement was “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.”
Layered on this family history is her own personal history: like most Americans, Svalbonas has moved frequently throughout her life. Each work in the series is an impossible chimera made up of pieces of buildings Svalbonas has photographed in the three primary locations she has most recently called home: rural Pennsylvania, near an aging industrial hub; the greater New York area; and Chicago. These hybrid structures reinterpret and reinvent architecture, disrupting space, light, and direction. Svalbonas confronts the viewer with the vertiginous dislocation we experience in dreams, when our childhood bedroom is inexplicably grafted onto the living room of a house we lived in decades later, which in turn opens onto a hidden room we have never seen.
In each collage the viewer feels not only the internal turbulence of the migrant, but also the relentless transformation of the American landscape, as barn gives way to subdivision and tenement to skyscraper. Svalbonas’ photo collages do not so much float as race toward us like the whirling farmhouse in the Wizard of Oz. Standing in front of “Migrants,” we are unmoored, caught up in the whirlwind of Svalbonas’ quest to define “home” not as a single place one returns to, but a place one assembles from the fragments of personal and historical memory.
Krista Svalbonas holds a BFA in photography and design from Syracuse University and an interdisciplinary MFA in photography, sculpture and design from SUNY New Paltz. She has exhibited at the Dairy Center of the Arts in Boulder, Colorado; Watchung Art Center and George Segal Gallery in New Jersey; Monterey Peninsula Art Gallery in California; Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Matteawan Gallery, The Painting Center, Trestle Gallery, and BWAC in New York; and Tubac Center For The Arts, Arizona. She recently completed large-scale site-specific installations at the ISE Cultural Foundation in New York and Wall Gallery in Oakland, California. She was part of a two-year traveling group exhibition in Latvia, where her work was acquired for the permanent collection of the Cesis Art Museum. She is a recipient of a Cooper Union artist residency as well as a New Arts Program residency and exhibition, and was awarded a Bemis fellowship for 2015. Svalbonas is currently a lecturer in photography at Columbia College.