Kristi Ryba's other works can be found at www.kristiryba.com
Exhibiting since 1990 in both solo and group shows, Ryba’s work has toured through the Southeast in painting and printmaking exhibitions. She has won various awards and scholarships including two South Carolina Arts Commission Project Grants. A magna cum laude graduate of the College of Charleston, Ryba also studied at Vermont Studio School and Studio Camnitzer in Valdotavvo, Lucca, Italy, and has her MFA from Union Institute and University, Vermont College in Montpelier, Vermont. A founding organizer of Print Studio South, Inc., Ryba served as President and on the Board of Directors, and has taught locally in both adult and children's programs. Ryba was one of 10 artists featured in the 2002 Piccolo Spoleto exhibit, “Larger Than Life: A Second Story Show”, was invited to exhibit in,” Contemporary Charleston 2004,” and in “Helping Hands: an artist's debut among friends,” in 2005. Ryba also exhibited at Silo, in New York City and her work was in the 2007 SOHO20 Chelsea show honoring The Feminist ART Project. Ryba's work is included in the Medical University of South Carolina's contemporary collection.
Her recent work uses materials that demand a great deal of time and preparation. She is using gouache or egg tempera often on vellum with gold leaf and creating her own framing. Her subject matter requires much research, decision making and time spent with old family photographs as well as images of Medieval artwork. Studying the altarpiece predellas and illuminated manuscripts and infusing that manner of imagery with the photographs taken by Ryba’s father create the results seen in the show “The Art and Science of Memory.” The photographs used are those that document Ryba’s childhood and family life. The artist questions, “Are these real memories or only memories of being told about these events while looking at the photographs?” This process of repeated, deep study of the images brings a fresh perspective and a new vision of the family of the 1950s. Religion, cultural messages, myths and iconography are combined with the imagery from the photographic collection to produce new works of art in the manner of the Medieval and Renaissance illuminations. Ryba says, “I reconstruct a reality from a borrowed memory and combine personal memory with family history. It seems to me a special gift to use these photographs in this way. It is an honor to my parent’s memory and more importantly a way to examine and question the culture and ideals of that period of our collective history in which many of us were shaped.”
Her earlier work represented a long-term exploration of images of dolls that serve as standardized human forms through which I examine cultural roles, relationships and common experiences such as growth, transition and change. As she said "I am interested in how the cultural messages we absorb about gender roles are not inevitably “nature,” and how the behaviors and roles we accept as natural, are learned, have become embedded in our psyches, and shape our identities. The theme of my work is a social commentary that revolves around the messages I internalized growing up female in the 1950’s and 60’s. As a young woman I choose to live what would be considered a traditional existence, and this may explain more usefully the subject of my work. As a child and adolescent, I never aspired to do more than to grow up get married and have children. I didn't think much about a career or really question my options. Raised in small towns, I was anxious about the larger world, married at 19 and became a mother by 22. Shortly after the birth of my second child a few years later, my husband and I separated and divorced. The big turning points for me were motherhood and divorce, and both were catalysts that forced me to change. In my subsequent study of art, occurring after these life-changing events, the dolls became for me the embodiment of the notion for all that is female. The use of the dolls began as a response to and an exploration of, these early messages about traditional roles for women. The first dolls were baby dolls saved from my own childhood. Over the years, while my interest in dolls has remained constant, the domestic themes have expanded and the actual doll objects have changed. Always on the look out for new material, my imagery is now comprised of many more types of doll figures, some which more closely depict a contemporary experience, while others illustrate a contrast between the past and the present."