Milner Library will host an Artist Talk with Jason Reblando on Tuesday, November 5, at 4:30 p.m. on Floor 6 in conjunction with his exhibit New Deal Utopias and Selected Works. Light refreshments will be provided.

Reblando, an instructional assistant professor at the Wonsook Kim School of Art, will be discussing his portfolio edition of New Deal Utopias as well as work from his series documenting planned communities that were part of the U.S. federal government’s Resettlement Administration during the Great Depression.

About the exhibit

Eighty years ago at the height of the Great Depression, the short-lived New Deal agency, the Resettlement Administration (RA), cleared thousands of acres of forest outside of Washington, D.C., to begin conducting a radical experiment: to build federally planned communities, designed to be fully self-sufficient and run almost entirely by cooperatives established by the residents.

Three model towns, collectively known as Greenbelt Towns, were designed upon English “Garden City” principles to provide jobs, housing, and a sense of community amidst open green spaces and egalitarian architecture. RA administrator Rexford G. Tugwell envisioned that Greenbelt, Maryland; Greenhills, Ohio; and Greendale, Wisconsin, would be the blueprint for hundreds of similarly planned communities across the country, in an effort to forge a new American way of life based on cooperation, not competition. The Greenbelt Town program was criticized as a communist boondoggle from the beginning, but it would become one of the most ambitious yet overlooked public works projects of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

As a photographer, Reblando became interested in the Greenbelt Towns because of his interest in public housing and urban planning, and from 2009 to 2012, he traveled to the cities to document what these idealistic communities look like today. Capturing both the optimism of the original project as well as the historical ambivalence of what came after that moment, Reblando’s project, New Deal Utopias, explores how we continue to grapple with the complexities of government, nature, and housing in contemporary life. His photographs invite viewers to reflect upon their own communities—whether they be planned or unplanned—and meditate upon the human urge to create an ideal society.

Milner Library is pleased to present this exhibition in collaboration with the artist, Jason Reblando, and with support from the Alice and Fannie Fell Trust. View Reblando’s exhibit on Floor 6 now through December 15.

About the Artist

Jason Reblando is an instructional assistant professor in the Wonsook Kim School of Art at Illinois State University. He is the recipient of a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship to the Philippines, an Artist Fellowship Award from the Illinois Arts Council, and a Community Arts Assistance Program grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. His work has been published in the New York TimesLos Angeles TimesChicago TribunePoliticoCamera Austria, Slate, Bloomberg BusinessweekMarketplaceReal SimplePlaces JournalChicago Magazine, and the Chicago Reader. His photographs are in the collections of the Library of Congress, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Pennsylvania State University Special Collections, the Midwest Photographers Project of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Reblando received his M.F.A. in photography from Columbia College Chicago, and a B.A. in sociology from Boston College.

Milner Library’s Exhibits Program

Milner Library’s Exhibits Program provides a platform for campus and community partners to host and present diverse works of art, science, and culture. Milner Library pursues informative, interactive, and educational programs that support the University’s educational mission and reflect our vibrant community. View the entire fall exhibit lineup.

If you need an accommodation to fully participate in any events, please contact Erin Link. Please allow sufficient time to arrange the accommodation.