Jared Ragland is a fine art and documentary photographer and former White House photo editor. He currently teaches and coordinates exhibitions and community programs in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is the photo editor of National Geographic Books’ “The President’s Photographer: Fifty Years Inside the Oval Office,” and has worked on assignment for NGOs in the Balkans, the former Soviet Bloc, East Africa and Haiti. His photographic work is rooted in his lifelong exposure to the landscapes, people, aesthetics, and storytelling traditions of the American South, and his work has been exhibited internationally and featured by The Oxford American, The New York Times, and TIME Magazine. Jared is an alumni of LaGrange College and a 2003 graduate of Tulane University with an MFA in Photography. He resides in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama.
EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALL RIGHT
“All these years I have been assuming that between us words mean roughly the same thing, that among certain people, gentlefolk I don’t mind calling them, there exists a set of meanings held in common.”
Walker Percy, “The Moviegoer”
Set in New Orleans, Walker Percy’s 1961 novel “The Moviegoer” is steeped in a sense of the collective culture and customs of the American South. Similarly, much of my work is rooted in my lifelong exposure to the landscapes, people, aesthetics, and storytelling traditions of this part of the country.
It is the search itself, rather than arriving at some certainty, that fascinates Binx Bolling, the main character in “The Moviegoer.” Likewise, my goal as an artist is to encourage viewers to journey toward an understanding based not only on observation, but also on self-reflection. Often fluctuating in feeling between intimacy and distance, private and public, realism and metaphor, Everything is Going to Be All Right combines both traditionally made black and white photographs and digitally sourced appropriated imagery to produce a meditation on Percy’s “The Moviegoer” that dissolves boundaries of space, place, and time yet maintains a consistent emotional sensibility.
Made in New Orleans and largely shot at night, the photographs loosely document a dispossessed urban landscape, particularly the approximate locations of single screen movie theaters that once ubiquitously populated the city. After photographing these locations, I input the theaters’ names — ones like The Tiger, The Cortez, Dreamland, and The Gaiety — into Google image search to create a database of images that shares the landscape photographs’ melancholic tones. The result is a body of work that has deep historical connections yet simultaneously addresses the plurality of symbolic functions alongside the my own personal search for meaning amid feelings of loss, isolation, alienation, and malaise.
To view more of Jared’s work please visit his website.