Jason Reblando '95
Jason Reblando majored in sociology. Senior year, he took a photography class for fun. "In my wildest dreams, I never thought of it as a career," he says. But a decade after graduation, a period of soul-searching culminated in a return to school for a fine arts degree. Now, he combines photography with his passion for social justice and curiosity about sociological issues.
"BC has influenced my work enormously. Both the Jesuit ideals and sociological ideas I explored those years gave me a sense of purpose that underlies my photography," Reblando explains. His work explores issues of race, class, nature, and the built environment.
"I'm fundamentally interested in storytelling," says Reblando. "I try to use my photography to tell stories, and I interned at WBEZ, the Chicago public radio station, to learn audio production. I enjoy the interplay between the voice and still photos, and I'm finding ways to create multimedia work that incorporates both."
Recently, his work documenting New Deal Utopian communities built by the federal government during the Great Depression was exhibited at O'Neill Library and featured by the New York Times Lens Blog. Intended as model cities providing modern alternatives to slum housing, these communities proved highly controversial and were criticized as socialist overreaching. For Reblando, they are ripe with lessons relevant to current debates about the role of government in public life.
Reblando and his wife, Joanne Diaz, live in Chicago and just welcomed their first child, August.
What has been the most satisfying moment in your professional life?
It was a thrill to share the New Deal Utopia project with the enormous audience of The New York Times Lens Blog.
In your personal life?
BC's newest Eaglet—my son August!
What is your next goal?
I'm working on securing a future for the New Deal Utopias proejct. I'd like to see the photographs published with essays.
What is the secret to success?
Showing up, which is much harder than it sounds.
Why did you decide to attend BC?
Boston's cultural offerings were a huge attraction. I also wanted to find out what a Jesuit education had meant to my brother.
What is one thing everyone should do while at BC?
Attend the Middlemarch Ball. I had a lot of fun at that.
What is your fondest BC memory?
The Appalachian volunteer experience had a huge impact on my life. It made my study of sociology real and gave me a sense of purpose. I'm still pursuing that purpose through my photography.
Where is your favorite spot on the Heights?
It's a toss–up among Bapst Library, the Eagles' Nest, and the darkroom in Devlin Hall.
How have you changed since graduation?
When I was at BC, I didn't consider myself an artist. But nonetheless, that seed was planted there by my first photography teacher.
What would you do if you were BC president for a day?
Hire myself as a tenured photography professor, and my wife as a tenured English professor.
Where did you live freshman year?
Welch Hall, on upper campus—it was a sophomore dorm.
What was your favorite BC class?
No question—the photography class I took with Carl Baden. He had no idea that he sat on my shoulder for the next 20 years. It was incredible to reconnect with him.
What was your favorite BC activity?
I rowed crew for a couple years. It was such a different world, those peaceful early mornings on the river, both a contemplative and physical activity.
How much can you sing of the BC fight song?
Not much. Maybe the first two lines.
What was the best meal at the BC dining hall?
What was your first job?
As a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, I was a community organizer in southern Oregon.
How do you relax?
Reading, running, and photography.
What do you look forward to each day?
Well, now, the things that baby Gus will do! I'm really enjoying new parenthood.
What is something your friends don't know about you?
I auditioned for My Mother's Fleabag.
Who would play you in the film version of your life?
Woody Allen. Bill Cosby. Brad Pitt.