Like many families, photographer Jesse Reiser grew up in a secular home that celebrated Christmas the American way. It may seem commonplace to celebrate Christmas through lights, decoration, and fanfare, but the phenomenon is worth examining at a cultural, commercial, and spiritual level.
In Jesse's photographs, we (the viewer) get to experience Christmas as an outsider. There is a break in the emotional connection we have with the holiday and the true nature of the holiday shows. Although it has an awkward absurdity to it, Christmas is still sincere in being celebratory, colorful and creative.
Here is what Jesse says in his artist statement about the body of work 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 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."