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"Like an Epiphany:" Kristi Ryba reimagines current day politics




Kristi Ryba’s show, titled “Like an Epiphany,” is a timely examination of current political figures depicted in the style of paintings and images of centuries ago. Ryba's show will be on display from March 30 - May 24, 2024. A reception for the artist will be held April 6, from 5-7 pm.


Using gouache or egg tempera on vellum with gold leaf, at first glance the viewer might mistake the personages for Renaissance European royalty, religious figures, or grand images common to Medieval artwork, iconography and altarpieces. Even the frames, from a distance, look like the ornate creations of a Medieval master.


However, upon closer examination, the imperial and grand images are none other than former president Trump, his family, members of his administration, and other members of government and political leadership dressed in the costumes of Renaissance life and placed in environments reminiscent of centuries-old illustrated manuscripts.


"After my dismay and depression over the November 2016 election, I began to substitute photographs of Trump, his administration, family, associates, tweets and quotes into existing manuscripts and altarpieces that depict, illuminate or illustrate what I believe is the shallow and corrupt nature of his government,” Ryba explains.


“It has been illuminating to me how so many of these imperial and grand images from Medieval and Renaissance European royalty relate to our present situation. Some things never change."


This series of paintings on exhibit serves “as a vehicle to simplify an urgent message by providing the symbolic and instructional imagery to illustrate and illuminate the leadership crisis we are in,” Ryba states. 


“All the gold, elaborate surroundings and messages of morality and ethics corresponded with what is happening in our government; the gutting of our social safety net and health care, eliminating environmental protections, the lack of restraint in spending money on personal enrichment and pleasure and the build-up of military spending and deficit in international diplomacy to name a few.”


From Charleston, S.C., Ryba has trained as a printmaker and painter. She graduated from the College of Charleston and obtained her MFA from Vermont College. She has participated in residencies at Vermont Studio School in Johnson, Vt., Studio Camnitzer in Valdotavvo, Lucca, Italy and The McColl Center in Charlotte, N.C.


Ryba’s work has been exhibited at ArtFields, 701 Contemporary Center for Art and Columbia College in Columbia, S.C.; Southern Ohio Museum in Portsmouth, Ohio; Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury, N.C.; The City Gallery at Waterfront Park, Charleston, S.C.; Sumter Gallery of Art in Sumer, S.C.; and Dialect Design in Charlotte, N.C.


More information on Ryba’s work is available on her website, kristiryba.com.

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