March 2022

THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA

https://jaredragland.com/ua

A portfolio of recent work, featuring project statements and full image captions, is below. Further examples of work can be found in the linked projects in the website menu, along with links to recent news and a bio/CV.

 A teaching portfolio containing sample syllabi, list of courses taught, and student outcomes and reviews can be viewed here.


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PORTFOLIO


WHAT HAS BEEN WILL BE AGAIN

Photographed at a critical moment of pandemic and protest, economic uncertainty, and political polarization, What Has Been Will Be Again has led me across more than 15,000 miles and 50 counties to bear witness to generational racial, ecological, and economic injustice in Alabama. From Native American genocide to slavery and secession, and from the fight for civil rights to the championing of Trumpist ideology, the national history written on, in, and by the people and landscapes of my home state reveal problematic patterns at the nexus of our larger American identity.

Social isolation is both a phrase and experience that has defined the past year, and What Has Been Will Be Again expressly evokes the alienation that has characterized the moment. Yet the work features sites for which isolation and violence is nothing new—places where extracted labor and environmental exploitation have exacted heavy tolls. Such isolation is less accidental or temporal, and more a product of decades of willful neglect by a mainstream America only now starting to visualize what—and who—has been pushed out of our collective frame of vision. By tracing historic colonial routes including the Old Federal Road and Hernando de Soto’s 1540 expedition, the project illustrates the perpetuated segregation and sequestration masked by white supremacist myths of American exceptionalism and reckons a haunting yet tender look at my home state’s troublesome past and tenuous present.

What Has Been Will Be Again was initiated through a 2020-21 Do Good Fund artist residency, and is made with additional grants and support from the Magnum Foundation, Columbus State University, The Aftermath ProjectWiregrass Museum of Art, Coleman Center for the Arts, and the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

See additional works and list of project publications, exhibitions, and awards here.


Spring Hill, Barbour County, Ala. Michael Farmer, 57, fashions a scarecrow next to his garden on Election Day, 2020
Archival pigment print, 21x24.5”  
Michael Farmer’s family has lived in Spring Hill for generations, where the predominantly Black community has faced a history of racial violence and voter disenfranchisement. On November 3, 1874 a white mob attacked the Spring Hill polling station, destroying the ballot box, burning the ballots, and murdering the election supervisor’s son. Farmer is a lifelong Democrat and military veteran who served two tours overseas in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. When asked what he hoped might come from the 2020 presidential election, Farmer said, “I hope the young folks might think about what their ancestors came through to get where we are.”



Childersburg, Talladega County, Ala. Sunshine turns soil in the Commons Community Workshop garden, from the series What Has Been Will Be Again, 2020
Archival pigment print, 21x24.5”  
As a response to recent national division and the COVID-19 pandemic, Sunshine and her husband Rusty recently bought a home in Childersburg and created The Commons Community Workshop. Through their Fearless Communities Initiative they are building a community garden in a donated downtown lot, hosting trade days, and fostering relationships with their neighbors as a means of “celebrating solidarity and strength.” The couple invited me to find them on Facebook where Sunny posts Initiative announcements, vocalizes her opposition to mask wearing and vaccines, and shares her beliefs about global child sex trafficking networks, the threat of Marxism, and the coming of the end times.



Carbon Hill, Walker County, Ala. Wanda and Jerry unload Trump-themed fireworks, from the series What Has Been Will Be Again, 2020
Archival pigment print, 21x24.5”  
“He’s my president. I just love him,” Wanda said as she went to kiss a box of We the People: D. J. Trump brand fireworks that guarantees “45 EPIC SHOTS.” Originally established as a mining and railroad community in 1863 by the Galloway Coal Company, Carbon Hill’s founders incorporated the town on February 14, 1891, nicknaming it “The Village of Love and Luck.” However, just two weeks prior a group of two hundred white coal miners on strike from the Carbon Hill Coal and Coke Co. devolved into a violent mob after hearing rumor their strike would lead to layoffs. Afraid their jobs would be given to Black citizens, the mob terrorized the town. In 2019 Carbon Hill mayor Mark Chambers published several inflammatory statements on Facebook, including a call to “kill out” the LGBTQIA community. Chambers’s posts were later deleted, and he apologized. One year later Chambers aimed racist remarks at the Black Lives Matter movement in a Facebook comment that read in part, “When you put Black lives before all lives they can kiss my ass.” Three days after publishing the comment Chambers deleted his remarks and resigned. As of 2011 there were approximately thirty churches in Carbon Hill for a population of just over two thousand residents, of which 89% are white and 25% live below the poverty line. More than 83% of Walker County residents voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 election.



Hayneville, Lowndes County, Ala. Beside the former location of Varner’s Cash Store, where Civil Rights activist Jonathan Myrick Daniels was shot to death by Tom Coleman, from the series What Has Been Will Be Again, 2020
Archival pigment print, 21x24.5”  
Jonathan Myrick Daniels, a white Episcopal seminarian from Keene, NH, had come to Alabama following Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for clergy to join the march from Selma to Montgomery. Daniels remained in Alabama after the march, assisting with voter registration efforts, working at a health clinic, and helping integrate an Episcopal congregation. In August 1965 Daniels and fellow activists attempted to purchase drinks at a Hayneville store but were held at gunpoint by volunteer special deputy sheriff Tom Coleman, who demanded they leave the property. Coleman shot at 17-year old African American activist Ruby Sales, but Daniels pushed Sales to the ground and took the impact of the blast, dying instantly. Coleman was charged with manslaughter in Daniels’ death, but an all white jury acquitted Coleman of all charges after deliberating for less than two hours.



Macon County, Ala. Near the former site of Fort Bainbridge, from the series What Has Been Will Be Again, 2021
Archival pigment print, 21x24.5”  
Located near several important Muscogee (Creek) towns along the Old Federal Road, Fort Bainbridge was constructed in 1814 to guard the U.S. Army’s supply route into Creek territory. After the Indian Removal Act of 1830, local white landowners established a plantation system using extensive forcedlabor of enslaved people. Between 1932 and 1972, investigators from United States Public Health Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention enrolled a total of 600 African-American men from Macon County in “The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.” Participants were not informed of the nature of the experiment and left untreated for 40 years. As a result, 28 patients died directly from syphilis, 100 died from complications related to syphilis, 40 of the patients’ wives were infected with syphilis, and 19 children were born with congenital syphilis.



Selections from the series What Has Been Will Be Again, 2020-21
Archival pigment prints, 21x24.5”



Selections from the series What Has Been Will Be Again, 2020-21
Archival pigment prints, 21x24.5”






HELLBENDER 

Photographed in collaboration with University of Alabama at Birmingham sociologist Heith Copes, Ph.D., Hellbender seeks to engage with the current conversation concerned with the pivotal political role and cultural identity of the rural American South and reveal how people who use meth create and communicate a sense of identity as they navigate social and economic marginalization.

Southern Gothic literature has described the American South as a deeply flawed place, where the lives of eccentric characters are shaped by poverty, alienation, crime, and violence as they struggle through morally questionable actions to make sense of the world around them. The characters in stories by Flannery O’Connor, Carson McCullers, and Harry Crews often embody madness, despair, and decay to reflect social realities and critique conventional cultural understandings. Similarly, Hellbender tells the complex, often contradictory stories of more than two dozen people who use methamphetamine from Sand Mountain, a sandstone plateau in northeast Alabama infamous for extreme poverty, poultry processing plants, Pentecostal snake-handlers, and meth production. Through the combination of first person accounts, ethnographic interview texts, research analysis, documentary photographs and participant-made images, the project introduces the stories of Chico, an ex-convict, meth dealer, and self-proclaimed member of the Aryan Brotherhood; Ryan and Alice, a young runaway couple on the brink of a lifetime of addiction; Willow, a transient, chronic binge user; and Fred, a long-time user who lost everything he owned in a house fire.

See additional works and list of project publications, exhibitions, and awards here.


Michael, 8, from the series Hellbender: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama, 2015-2019
Archival pigment print, 16x24”

Michael is the son of meth users. The first time Michael’s mother, Misty, used meth she went on a five day binge. On the fifth day she woke up to find her oldest son drowning in the bathtub. The boy was resuscitated, but soon after he and two other children were taken from Misty’s care. Michael is the only child who remained in her custody. Today, Michael and his mother no longer live on Sand Mountain; Misty is drug-free and her oldest son was just accepted into the University of Alabama.



Willow, 38, from the series Hellbender: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama, 2015-2019
Archival pigment print, 16x24”
Willow tries to inject but struggles to find a vein, sticking herself half a dozen times before blaming me for making her nervous with the camera. Willow is a chronic binge user who lived in more than six homes in less than nine months.



Ryan, 22, from the series Hellbender: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama, 2015-2019
Archival pigment print, 16x24”
Upon his release from jail Ryan walked more than 20 miles from the sheriff’s office to his parent’s house in a neighboring county. He had served three months for stealing from friends, family and strangers to support his meth habit. While in jail he found Jesus, became a born again Christian and swore off meth, but he was turned away by his father when he arrived back home. After reuniting with his ex-girlfriend, Alice, he moved into a trailer with her and began using again, this time with needles. Ryan recently moved away from Sand Mountain and is living drug-free.



Mono, 40, from the series Hellbender: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama, 2015-2019
Archival pigment print, 16x24”
Mono arranges clothes for a garage sale. Together with another user, he sold just enough to buy a quarter gram of meth, hardly enough to split and both get high. “Meth makes me forget about my problems, it makes me not think about them. Look, I might use and all that, but… I’m one of the good bad people. I’m a good, bad person. That’s what I tell everybody.”



Selections from the series Hellbender: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama, 2015-2019
Archival pigment prints, 16x24” each



Selections from the series Hellbender: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama, 2015-2019
Archival pigment prints, 16x24” each





SOME MILLION MILES

Set within a rural landscape of abundant beauty and deep poverty, Some Million Miles presents a meditation on loss and the search for redemption amidst systemic social and economic marginalization. Through a series of confessional vignettes, the film reconnects viewers to the stories Chico, Alice, and Misty several years after their participation in the photo-ethnography project, Good Bad People. As Chico struggles with reintegration into society following a jail sentence, Alice pursues recovery and fights for custody of her daughter while Misty rebuilds a stable life after ending an abusive relationship. Some Million Miles is co-directed with filmmaker Adam Forrester, was produced with support from an Indie Grits Rural Project grant, and is distributed by Reel South via PBS.

To view the full film via PBS online: https://www.pbs.org/video/some-million-miles-zlgpox/  
See full credits and list of film screenings here.


Trailer for the short documentary film, SOME MILLION MILES, 2019 (co-dir. Adam Forrester)





WHERE YOU COME FROM IS GONE

Where You Come From is Gone explores the importance of place, the passage of time, and the political dimensions of remembrance through the historical wet-plate collodion photographic process. Created during the state of Alabama’s bicentennial celebration with collaborative partner Cary Norton, the large scale images seek to make known a history that has largely been eliminated and make visible the erasure that occurred in the American South between Hernando de Soto’s first exploitation of native peoples in the 16th century and Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act 300 years later.

Using a 100-year-old field camera and a custom portable darkroom tailored to a 4x4 truck, Norton and I have journeyed more than 3,000 miles across 30 Alabama counties to locate, visit, and photograph indigenous sites. Yet the melancholy landscapes hold no obvious vestiges of the Native American cultures that once inhabited the sites; what one would hope to document, hope to preserve, hope to remember, is already gone. Instead, the photographs deliberately document absence and seek to render the often invisible layers of culture and civilization, creation and erasure, and the man-made and natural character of the landscape.

See additional works and list of project publications, exhibitions, and awards here.


Egmont Key, Florida, from the series Where You Come From is Gone, 2020
Archival pigment print from wet-plate collodion tintype, 40x50”
Collaboration with Cary Norton, commissioned by the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art
The United States government began forcibly removing Native Americans from Florida in 1817. As Eastern Woodland peoples throughout the southeast were forced to leave their homelands for reservations in Oklahoma, the Seminoles – an already displaced people – were removed by steamship in an over-water branch of the Trail of Tears. One such vessel, the Grey Cloud, made more than two dozen voyages during the Second and Third Seminole Wars from a stockade on Egmont Key, a small secluded island located in the mouth of Tampa Bay. At one time, the stockade held as many as 300 Seminoles, including Holata Micco (Billy Bowlegs), one of the last Seminole chiefs to resist forced removal; Emateloye (Polly Parker), who escaped the Grey Cloud while docked near Tallahassee and walked 400 miles southward to rejoin her people at Lake Okeechobee, where she lived until her death in 1921; and Seminole leader Thlocklo Tustenuggee (Tiger Tail), who committed suicide by swallowing crushed glass rather than remain in captivity. It is also said ten Seminole warriors detained at Egmont marched silently into the Gulf instead of suffering relocation. Many other Seminoles died while interned on the island, but names and burial locations were not accurately recorded by the US government. Over the last century, Egmont Key has lost more than half its land mass – and with it its important history – as the seas surrounding the island have risen at least 8 inches. State officials predict another 9- to 24-inch rise by 2060, while wakes churned by fuel tankers, container ships, and cruise liners in Tampa Bay increasingly erode the island’s dunes.



Tierra Verde, Florida, from the series Where You Come From is Gone, 2020
Archival pigment print from wet-plate collodion tintype, 40x50”
Collaboration with Cary Norton, commissioned by the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art
Near this site, south of present-day St. Petersburg, a Tocobaga charnel house and burial mound were once situated on a series of 15 islands. Scholars believe the dead would be laid in the charnel house and a shaman/priest – with help from scavenging birds – would remove the flesh from the skeleton in preparation for burial. Once stripped or picked cleaned, the bones and the eternal spirit they held were placed in the mound. The Tocobaga disappeared from the historical record by the early 1700s, as disease brought by European explorers decimated the Safety Harbor culture, leaving the Tampa Bay area virtually uninhabited for more than a century. The landscape of Tierra Verde was completely transformed in the late 1950s when the burial grounds were razed and used as fill dirt for a residential development and golf course.



Cahaba River, Dallas County, Alabama, from the series Where You Come From is Gone, 2017
Archival pigment print from wet-plate collodion tintype, 40x50”
Collaboration with Cary Norton
For millennia people have been drawn to the land situated at the confluence of the Cahaba and Alabama rivers. The area now known as Old Cahawba was first occupied by large populations of Paleoindians 4,000 years ago. During the Mississippian period (1000–1500 CE), mound builders established a walled city with palisades that was visited by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century. In the years that followed, Afro-Eurasian diseases the explorers brought with them killed thousands of Indigenous people, and the remaining native peoples were wiped out or forced to move by an even greater influx of Europeans. By the early 19th century, the dirt from the ancient mounds at Cahawba was used to build railroad beds, and the town briefly served as the state capital of Alabama. Cahawba became a ghost town shortly after the Civil War, largely due to recurring floods. By the late 1800s, the town site was purchased for $500 and its buildings demolished.



Cherokee Rock Village, Cherokee County, Alabama, from the series Where You Come From is Gone, 2017
Archival pigment print from wet-plate collodion tintype, 40x50”
Collaboration with Cary Norton
Cherokee Rock Village was home to Indigenous peoples almost continuously from 8000 BCE until the 1830s, when the resident Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek) peoples were forcibly removed by the Indian Removal Act. Located along an ancient Native American trail of religious and ceremonial importance, the site later became a starting point for the Trail of Tears.




SHIFT//TANGENT
For five months in early 2016, SHIFT occupied the ground floor storefront at 1910 3rd Ave. N in Birmingham, Alabama’s Theatre and Arts District. A Birmingham Museum of Art initiative, SHIFT was a satellite space that functioned as a platform for conversations around contemporary art and aimed to engage contemporary Birmingham artists in non-traditional ways. Each month SHIFT invited two people to host, occupy, and activate the satellite space, and encouraged the collaborators to push outside their creative comfort zone and create opportunities that would resound with the larger Birmingham community. 


Together with my co-host, improvisational musician LaDonna Smith, we considered the improvisational qualities of collaboration and invited members from our respective artistic communities to work with us to create Tangent, a single-night event that incorporated spoken word, improvisational music, and sound performances within an immersive photographic installation featuring works from ten Birmingham photographers.

The cohort of photographers was comprised of established photographic artists, commercial and editorial professionals, as well as several of my colleagues and students from The University of Alabama at Birmingham. The photographers were tasked to document the geographic space between the Birmingham Museum of Art and the BMA’s downtown SHIFT space throughout the month of May. Participants could pursue their own subject matter or work from a provided list of prompts. The result is a widely-varied body of work that does not comprehensively document Birmingham’s downtown; instead through aggregation, selection, editing, and exhibition the pictures of people, monuments, landscapes, architecture, and detritus provide nuanced social, cultural, and aesthetic subtexts. In addition to the installation of selected works in the SHIFT space, participants’ photographs were shared to the SHIFT Instagram feed @shiftbham.

See more here.


Selections from Shift//TANGENT, 2016
Engineering prints, 24x36” each
Crowd-sourced photographs mapping geographic space between the Birmingham Museum of Art and the BMA’s temporary SHIFT space, compiled during an April 2016 residency in collaboration with Birmingham photographers Rob Culpepper, Jenny Fine, Wes Frazer, Timothy Harstvedt, Devin Lunsford, C.W. Newell, Cary Norton, Carolyn Sherer, Orlando Thompson, and Leita Turner





ONE DAY PROJECTS

One Day Projects is a collaborative publishing platform committed to promoting creative dialogue by challenging artists to produce and publish innovative projects within a 24-hour time period. Established in 2015 with photographer/bookmaker Eliot Dudik, One Day Projects has produced three limited edition artist books: And light followed the flight of sound (2018); or give me death (2016); and bras-coupé (2015).

On August 21, 2017, the total solar eclipse provided a rare opportunity for people across the United States to experience a collective encounter. Despite the prevalence of contemporary political and cultural polarization, more than 215 million Americans–88% of the country’s total population–stood side by side and looked skyward together, sharing in a quieting, unifying act.

Inspired by both the natural wonder and symbolic possibilities of this unique occurrence, photographers from inside and outside the path of totality were invited to document and share their experiences. The resulting book, And light followed the flight of sound, features 85 images by 52 emergent and established photographic artists. Edited, designed and produced with Eliot Dudik and presented as a 30-foot-long, hand-bound accordion with an enclosed saddle-stitched zine and essay by art historian Catherine Wilkins, Ph.D., the limited edition of 150 copies is printed on digital offset, covered in a foil-stamped cloth, and housed in a clear Mylar sleeve, also foil stamped. As the book is removed from its sleeve, the foil stamps mimic the passage of the moon in front of the sun.

The book’s title references E. M. Forster’s 1909 dystopian novella, The Machine Stops, in which the human species has become completely reliant upon technology to provide sustenance, deliver information, and mediate relationships. Today, life imitates art, and technology–which once promised to democratize knowledge and provide deep connection–has infiltrated the most intimate moments of our lives, increased individual isolation, provoked partisanship, and proliferated fake news.

“In an age in which even acceptance of scientific knowledge has become incomplete, divisive, and politicized, the 2017 solar eclipse marked a sought after, albeit temporary, restoration of reason and scientific truth,” writes Wilkins. “The photographs found in And light followed the flight of sound seek to restore viewers’ senses through an embrace of firsthand experience and critical visual reckoning of terrestrial–or celestial–facts.”

See additional One Day Project information and publications here.


And light followed the flight of sound, 2018
30 foot-long hand-bound accordion book with saddle-stitched zine and mylar slip cover, featuring images by 52 photographers made on the 2017 total solar eclipse. Coordinated, edited, and bound in collaboration with Eliot Dudik as One Day Projects. Edition of 150


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