When taking in Kristina McComb's artwork, the journey of seeing all aspects of the piece is just as exciting as the full piece itself. With the layers of photos, steel, and illuminating light, the details collectively come together to produce haunting, yet dimensional images that are hard to look away from.
For McComb, art started with her camera named Jace, taking photos at a summer camp where she worked in the kitchen. After realizing her love for photography, in the spring of 2012 she enrolled at Greenfield Community College part-time to take an Intro to Photography and an Intro to Computer Arts courses. According to McComb “If you asked me at the start of it all, if I thought I would be an artist I probably would have given you a funny "you're kidding right" look”, yet four years later she had graduated with an Associates Degree in Science and Visual Arts with a concentration in Photography. She then continued her education and received her B.F.A from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts in 2017.
Materials inform McComb’s creative process. While in school she developed a love for transparent film, however, its fragile state lacks presence when displayed alone. By following her passion for experimentation, she started designing and welding steel frames to display the film. McComb identifies as a fabricator as much as an artist. Her idea of a perfect frame has transformed overtime, once aiming to make each steel box perfect, McComb now finds beauty in the purposefully minutia imperfections. These slight variations in each frame allow her editions to be unique, as if individuals. Consistently re-imagining and re-designing the structure which holds her photographs, McComb places equal importance on her work’s presentation as its subject.
In her Transparency series, each lightbox seeks to imitate a central marker of time, past, present and future. Each of these lightboxes started with one photograph which informed her other selections. In Present, she started with an image of a door, which metaphorically represents our hope for the future combined with the unknown. In Lacy Pathways, her first photograph was of a walkway representing the different paths we choose. McComb then sources the other two images from her archive of photographs that she has built over the years. While it took two years to complete, McComb always knew she wanted her Transparency series to be a set of three lightboxes. She started her third lightbox, From Times Before, after completing two photography series that dealt heavily with time, details, destruction, and decay and the beauty of those concepts. With these ideas fresh in her mind, McComb chose an image of an hourglass, a more literal image of time. By printing the photographs on acetate and hanging them in back-lit steel structures she seeks to imitate the fragility and permanence of time.
McComb’s newest lightbox series, Two Sides of Self, is inspired by her own life experiences. She aims to blend the place she grew up, Western, MA, and her new home of Boston. Unlike the Transparency series, McComb began this piece knowing the exact images she wanted to include in this series. With the knowledge and experience of completing the Transparency series, McComb found her photoshoot to come more naturally as she was able to imagine how her photographs would interact in her steel frames.
In another series, Manufactured Autonomy: Archive of Flukes, Products of Coincidence, Kristina McComb examines and catalogs the physical intricacies of pearls and the shells that they grow in; such as size, shape, color, texture, and other defining characteristics. The steel books range from six to twelve panels, every pearl photo is completely unique, never repeated or duplicated. The pearl is nothing more than an agitation to the shell that it grows in overtime. Inspired by daguerreotypes, the first commercially successful photographic process, she uses a chemical reaction to rust the metal structure as if they were antique photo albums.
Kristina McComb's practice intersects photography and sculpture and focuses on the impact of time when selecting materials and subjects. For McComb, time stands as a dichotomy as it represents both death and life, it naturally slowly and steadily destroys but also gives life. No part of life is untouched by times impact.