May 7, 2014

Zine: Catholic Guilt #3
Catholic Guilt #3 reminds us that we are the beautiful weirdos.

I first met Jesse Riggins in Portland, Oregon while picking wild blackberries. This was in 2005, and the bushes grew parallel to the railroad tracks we walked along. With magenta-stained fingers, Jesse snapped away with a Nickelodeon PhotoBlaster while we ate from the branches. Little did I know that almost 10 years later we would meet again in Philadelphia. She would dig up the photograph from her cavernous room stuffed with cameras, vintage dresses and vine plants, and here she would staple the third issue of Catholic Guilt, her photography zine.

I'm writing this at the Green Line Cafe in Philadelphia, surrounded by the work Jesse continues to shoot. She recently had an art show here for the release of Catholic Guilt #3, so the walls are covered with blown up versions of her color photographs and the ceiling is lined with black and white photographs of friends, only visible when you look up, and include musical pals Swearin' and Waxahatchee.

Jesse has been taking photographs since she was around seven-years-old, when her and her sister would model clothing they made out of sheets and towels. At 31-years-old, nothing much has changed except for the ages of the oddball subjects. The work in Catholic Guilt #3 contains the beautiful bizareness and excellent weirdos that Jesse has an eye for: mannequin heads, unusual neon signs, plants at night, ripped tights and folks on the toilet.

Jesse often focuses on queers and punks, two walks of life she identifies with, as well as inanimate objects that exude a secret only Jesse can hear. Someone smearing on lipstick, a band in a prime moment from an unsuspecting angle, and a grocery store advertising "breasts $1.99" surrounded by American flags are some examples of the work you can find on her Tumblr.  Her photos are rarely staged, and this is because there's no need. Jesse has the ability to capture the strange moments we find ourselves in daily but fail to notice.

Buy your own copy of Catholic Guilt #3 here.

Written by Cynthia Schemmer