Tag Archives: Hanging Lights

Jesse Rieser

I thought it would be fun to use the opportunity of Christmas Eve to showcase Jesse Rieser’s wonderful project, Christmas in America: Happy Birthday, Jesus. Santa (and Jesus) has been very good to Jesse this year. Here are a few of the accolades he recieved in 2011:

2011 Art Director’s Club Young Guns 9
Top 50 International Emerging Creative

2011 PDN Photo Annual
Winner: Best Personal Work of the Year (Christmas in America: Happy Birthday, Jesus)

2011 American Photography Annual – AP 27
Winner: Best Personal Work of the Year (Christmas in America: Happy Birthday, Jesus)
Winner: Best Editorial Work of the Year (Phoenix Goddess Temple, Sex Church)

2011 Critical Mass Top 50
Best project of 2011 selected by 200 international curators, gallery owners, and publishers

Jesse has written one of my favorite bio/statements — take a minute to check it out. Jesse was born in Missouri and now lives in California working as a editorial, commercial, and fine art photographer, and undoubtedly 2012 will be another year of amazing achievements.

Christmas in America: Happy Birthday, Jesus
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.