Jesse Rieser: Christmas in America Again
Christmas celebrations in America seem commonplace to most people, but to Jesse Reiser, they are a cultural, commercial, and spiritual phenomenon worth examining. Growing up in a secular home, the idea of Christmas expressed through lights, decoration, and fanfare was and are fascinating to Jesse and over the years, he has continued his examination of Christmas in America. This post was first published in 2013, but not much has changed in the world of Santa Claus and holiday lights.
Jesse has had the honor to work with top clients and be recognized by the several awards his field has to offer. His list of past clients includes BBDO, Publicis World Wide, M&C Saatchi, Cramer Krasselt, AT&T, The NFL, Ritz Carlton, Warner Brothers, The NBA, Proctor & Gamble, The John Paul Getty Museum, Redbook, Country Living and ESPN Magazine.
His work has been shown in the Communication Arts Photography Annual, PDN Photo Annual (2x), American Photography Annual (3x), An ART DIRECTOR’S CLUB YOUNG GUN (Top 50 International Emerging Creative Under 30), 2012 MAGENTA FOUNDATION: FLASH FORWARD WINNER (Top Emerging Fine Art Photographer In North America and U.K.) The Art of Photography Juried Exhibition, CCNY Annual Juried Exhibition, Center’s Review Santa Fe 100 and one of Archive’s “200 Best Ad Photographers. He lives and works in Los Angeles.
Christmas in America
Beyond the glowing green and red lights, past the shimmering silvery tinsel, around the fragrant pine boughs, another Christmas lingers, a Christmas of contradictions.
This Christmas is complex and at times, uncomfortable. It’s awkward and sometimes bleak. But it is also sincere and celebratory, colorful and creative.
This is the Christmas I capture in this first chapter of a photographic exploration of the biggest event on the American calendar. I grew up in a secular home and at times felt like a Christmas outsider, never connected to the holiday’s religious importance, or its more extreme cultural trappings. But in these photos, I become a Christmas insider, working to discover and reveal what holiday magic, or mania, compels so many to devote thousands of hours to hanging lights, to carving and painting figurines, to building miniature villages, to converting their homes, yards, garages and cars into monuments to merriness.
Initially inspired by the absurdity of a five story inflatable Santa who appeared to be guarding a tree lot, I have launched this survey of uniquely American Christmas traditions. “Christmas in America” is an unvarnished examination of the ways people mark the holiday’s meaning.
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