GV Art Gallery explores ‘Canal by Canal’ with Jason Reblando


GVL / Annabelle Robinson

Ayron Rutan, Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University Art Gallery hosted documentary photographer Jason Reblando Friday as a part of their “On The Wall Artist Talk” series. The event took place in-person and over zoom, and featured an in-depth discussion with Reblando about his work. 

The talks were catered specifically to his photography exhibitions at GVSU, “Canal By Canal” on display in Lake Ontario Hall’s gallery. 

The exhibition features a series of photographs documenting the people and environment of Valencia, Spain’s irrigation community. 

While in Spain, Reblando researched the irrigation community and the thousand-year-old waterways in support of research done by GVSU Professor Erik Nordman’s book “The Uncommon Knowledge of Elinor Ostrom” (Island Press, 2021)

This “On the Wall” talk was coordinated with the help of GVSU Art Gallery’s User Experience and Learning Manager, Amanda Rainey, to dive deeper into the gallery in Lake Ontario Hall. 

This past summer, Erik reached out to the Art Gallery department to propose the exhibition and we jumped at the opportunity,” Rainey said. 

Reblando credited his interest in showcasing his photography at GVSU to his work with Dr. Nordman. 

“I was excited at the prospect of showcasing the work here not only because of Dr. Nordman’s affiliation with GVSU, but also because of the many ways GVSU explores and investigates the relevance of water in our lives,” Reblando said. “The images are a meditation on how humans continue to shape the natural landscape, as well as a record of a thousand-year-old communal agricultural practice that has survived wars, dictatorships, and political winds of change.”

Not only was Reblando excited to work with GVSU, but GVSU was excited for what Reblando’s photography brought to the table. 

Rainey said the gallery was very impressed with Reblando’s previous works, and loves that his work explores many different fields of study at GVSU. 

“In his ‘Canal By Canal’ series he documents the natural and built environments as well as the people that comprise Valencia’s irrigation community,” Rainey said. “In this one series alone, we can talk about natural resource management, economics, politics, art, and more.”

Being a documentary photographer, Reblando said he enjoys capturing people, places, and events in the real world. Much of his inspiration comes from the way that humans work together to shape the world around them. 

“I’m very interested in how humans interact and shape the landscape and the built environment,” Reblando said. “I am interested in making pictures that simultaneously document the world around me, but also evoke an open-ended story. My photos are often rooted in socioeconomic fact, but expressed creatively, and subjectively. I hope that my working method is akin to creative non-fiction.”

Reblando said he hopes that the photographs of “Canal By Canal” appeal to GVSU students, faculty, and anyone else who happens upon the gallery. 

He said his goal is that the project will help further the ambitions of the GVSU Making Waves Initiative, a community cooperative that explores and investigates the many ways water touches our lives. 

“We hope that ‘Canal by Canal’ can build on conversations started by the GVSU Making Waves Initiative, and hope the interdisciplinary subject matter and approach will support the mission of the gallery and the university,” Reblando said. 

The GVSU Art Gallery will continue their “On The Wall Artist Talk” series next month with famed photographer Donata Ferraro to discuss her career of over 30 years photographing victims/survivors of domestic violence and her work as an anti-violence advocate. 

Her work will be on view in the Kirkhof Center Wall Gallery starting Oct. 1.