Personal 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 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 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.

Awards:

Communications Arts Photography Annual
Winner: Best Self-Promotion Campaign
Christmas In America: Happy Birthday, Jesus

Magenta Foundation Flash Forward Winner
Top Emerging Fine Art Photographer In North America and U.K. Under 34
Christmas In America: Happy Birthday, Jesus

PDN Photo Annual
Best Personal Work Series: Christmas In America: Happy Birthday, Jesus

AP 27: American Photography Annual 27
Best Personal Work Series: Christmas In America: Happy Birthday, Jesus

Photolucida Critical Mass Winner: Top 50 International Project
Christmas In America: Happy Birthday, Jesus

Art of Photography Juried Exhibition
Christmas In America: Happy Birthday, Jesus

CCNY Annual Juried Exhibition
Christmas In America: Happy Birthday, Jesus

The 10 Most Exciting Photographers This Year
Phoenix Art Museum

Rebecca Senf Ph.D. & Mary Virginia Swanson

Press:
The New York Times Lens Blog/Esquire Russia/NPR Picture Show/Fast Company Design Co/Wired Raw File/Yahoo!/Refinery 29/It’s Nice That/Hyperallergic/Los Angeles Confidential/Feature Shoot/PDN Photo of the Day/Lenscratch I: Christmas In America: Happy Birthday, Jesus/ Finite Photo/The Oregonian: Exhibition Review/ISO 50/Inspiration Lab/JENREN/Faded and Blurred/Junk Culture/Curbed

Exhibitions
Love, Anxiety, and Happiness
Critical Mass Top 50 Touring Show
Northwest Center For Photograpy. Seattle, WA
Newspace Center For Photography. Portland, OR
Raykko Gallery. San Franciso, CA (Group Show)
Newspace Center for Photography. Portland, OR (Solo Show)
The Sagauro, A Joie de Vivre Boutique Hotel. Scottsdale, AZ (Solo Show)
Art Director’s Club Gallery. New York, NY (Group Show)
Art of Photography Juried Exhibition
Juried by Ann Lyden, Assoc. Curator of J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Lyceum Theatre Gallery. San Diego, CA (Group Show)
Camera Club of New York Annual Juried Exhibition
Camera Club of New York Gallery. New York, NY (Group Show)