Krista Svalbonas – Chicago, Illinois


I am extremely excited to be heading into Year 2 of the 3 year project, the Midwest Artist Studios™ (MAS) Project. I will be traveling from July 26 through August 1, 2015 to the following artists/cities/states – Mellissa Redman, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Kate Robertson, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Jenniffer Omaitz, Kent, Ohio; Ellie Honl, Bloomington, Indiana; Jessica Anderson, Jacksonville, Illinois; and Jason Ackman, Rushville, Illinois. In mid-August I will be visiting the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s Arts/Industry to document Emmy Lingscheit, who is one of our featured 2015 MAS artists and a current artist in resident. In late September, I will finish our documentation/research by visiting Krista Svalbonas, Chicago, Illinois and Emmy Lingscheit, Urbana, Illinois. 

The artists selected were based on their responses to an online survey focusing on Art Education, body of work, and a Skype interview. 

Throughout our visits I will be introducing you to 8 amazing and talented artists from the Midwest working in printmaking to painting, sculpture to mixed media and collage to installation art.

Click here to read a collaborative reflection from this past school year’s MAS Project. 

Join me on this MAS adventure via or subscribe to the blog,

– Frank Juarez


Here are two of the questions asked on our survey and the artist’s response.

Please share one positive Art Education experience that you had in middle school, high school or college.

I have to thank my high school art teachers for being so amazingly supportive of me. After exhausting every art class possible in the school they devised a series of independent studies for me to focus on media and ideas that I wished to explore. Without there continual sponsorship who knows where I would be.

Why is Art Education today?

I read an article the other day that talked about an MFA being the new MBA. So much of today’s world is looking for the creative thinker, someone who can “think outside of the box”. Arts education, as that article adeptly put, is filled with ways to problem solve, think conceptually, flexibility and of course creativity. Without arts education many of our cultural, technological and social advances wouldn’t have happened.

Krista Svalbonas


head_shotIn the Presence of Memory Statement:

I grew up in an area of Pennsylvania dominated by the steel industry, and have long been interested in industrial architecture as an expression of cultural history.  “In the Presence of Memory” explores the architectural vestiges of a far more ancient industry: agriculture. The disappearing vernacular architecture of barns in rural Pennsylvania reveals their varied European lineages: specific structural elements reflect the building traditions of the home countries of the immigrant families who built them. A typology of these barn structures bears witness to centuries of migration. But what once seemed a stable and permanent destination is now in flux, as the family farm gives way to industrial farming, and farmland is converted to residential or commercial developments. For the past year I have been traveling throughout my home state to document these agricultural structures: abandoned, re-purposed, or – occasionally – still in use.  These photographic images have become the source material for this body of work. Using industrial felt (manufactured in Pennsylvania) as a substrate, I silk-screen images of architectural details of the barns using industrial pigments such as steel, iron and copper. I paint each piece individually using oil and cold wax, and cut into the felt, echoing the empty and thatched spaces of the often-dilapidated structures I have photographed. I “patch” these cut areas with colored sections of serigraph negatives, mimicking the splashes of incongruous color on the weathered surfaces that have been repaired again and again. The colors, forms and shapes of the felt panels all refer to the original structures; even in their abstraction, these paintings document the vanishing rural industrial landscape.


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 Miller Yezerski Gallery, Massachusetts; 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.



All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission. 


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