Jesse Rieser was born in the Ozarks — an 80s kid with a Midwestern upbringing in Springfield, Missouri. At Arizona State University he majored in photography and art history while attending the Herberger Institute of Art and Design. His world has been shaped by his artistic parents: a mother who is a painter and educator and a father who draws and paints; they exposed him to the colorful pop art movement of the 50s, American photo realism of the 70s; and the use of light to celebrate the subjects in the Dutch Baroque, and Renaissance periods — all major influences in his aesthetic.
For the past decade Jesse has carefully constructed a photographic world built on the foundation of celebrating the mundane and humorous elements that often go overlooked in our day-to-day American experience. His use of light and bleached color, leaves the viewer with the illusion that our existence is equally beautiful as it is fleeting. In this world you will find one-time paradisal places and memories framed by our modern anxieties about the past, present, and future — examining our rituals and the artifacts left behind. If these earlier works were more documentary in nature, his latest work Phoenix A Dystopian Lego Land blurs the lines of fact and fiction — the real dancing joyfully with the surreal and constructed.
Clients find him as a creative additive to the collaborative process not only with his technical expertise but also in the ideation phase. He feels his greatest currency is how he communicates and sees the world. Some call it empathy. Some call it charm. His mom just says he’s a nice young man.
About Christmas In America: Happy Birthday, Jesus – words by Jesse Rieser:
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 a Christmas where carved foam soldiers guard Santa in the parking lot of a church just before a holiday parade. This is a Christmas where thousands of Santas run in an annual fundraising race, a sea of red hats and performance apparel. This is a Christmas where garages and homes are transformed into elaborate, festive wonderlands. This is a Christmas where Christian families reenact the birth of Christ, where Santa plays pool in a bar and where more is more is more.
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 have grown to love during my decade long 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 four-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.