I continue to express myself because I try to bring about change. Jesse Freeman

Original written By Natsuko

Japanese - English translation mostly by AI 🤖


I met Jesse 14 years ago in Shibuya at night. lol


Jesse was brought along by a mutual friend and introduced himself.

"I like reading books." he told me enthusiastically.


...? ? ? 🤷‍♀️ 🤷‍♀️ 🤷‍♀️


Jesse's somewhat strong appearance and the situation of Shibuya at night 🌛✨,

The Hip Hop music pounding on the floor and “reading 📖”  just don’t go together so well.


I still remember seeing a lot of big question marks floating in my mind. lol



Fourteen years later, Jesse, then 24, turned 38.

Jesse's personality, which used to be all about reading, has now become photography, flower arrangements, and art.


...So, this time I interviewed Jesse, who continues to express himself.


Jesse Freeman

Jesse Freeman

Occupation: Visual artist & writer

Age: 38 years old

Birthplace and after: (don't remember, but born in England🐣) →  Baltimore, USA → Hawaii🌺 → Tokyo → Sweden → Once, USA → Tokyo

Current residence: Tokyo

Pet dogs: HARA and Koko


- Congratulations on your solo exhibition at UltraSuperNew Gallery in Harajuku!

What message did you want to convey through your solo exhibition "I am I be"?

Jesse Freeman solo exhibition "I am I be"


My current self.

After returning to Japan from the U.S., various problems occurred in my life.

I felt like I was in a box, unable to move.


I created this work because I wanted to sort out those feelings and move forward.


Jesse Freeman "I am I be"


Just wanted people try to understand how hard it can be.

I think people learn more from pain.


- The opening of that solo exhibition was crowded with people. Well, I get the impression that Jesse's exhibitions are always crowded with friends, not just this one, but that's not something everyone can do every time.

Why do so many friends support Jesse?


I don't know. lol


Maybe because I do so many different things, such as photography and flower arrangement?


I don't really understand it myself, but maybe what I'm saying is very different so people want to be a part of.

I sew quilts and arrange Ikebana flowers, and is from Baltimore. I break stereotypes, and maybe that's why I'm interested because I'm different and unexpected.


- What do friends mean to you?

They will bring me wonderful experiences. This is absolutely true.


For example, my best friend Alani Cruz who gave me the camera, and my friend who brought me here today.

Friends introduce me to new worlds and I can learn from their experiences.

I'm a go-with-the-flow type of person, so I often take advantage of opportunities that come my way.


For me, friends are proof of my life and people I can trust.


Jesse Freeman at friend's wedding in Iwate

A friend's Japanese wedding in Iwate Prefecture


Jesse started photography because his late best friend Alani gave him a RICOH GR in 2009.


Jesse Freeman Leica Camera 

Leica, Jesse uses a lot lately.


During the interview, another friend of us actually waited until we were done.
Jesse never fails to take care of people who are left alone, such as paying close attention to the friend who was kept waiting even in the middle of an interview. I understand why he has a lot of friends.


Photo Credit: Jesse Freeman


- As with the theme of this solo exhibition, many of Jesse's works express so-called negative situations, such as racism, breakups, and various problems that have occurred in life.


"_Worried" by Jesse Freeman

"_Worried" 2022


Many people avoid expressing negative themes publicly, but why do you continue to express your negative feelings to the world?

I think great artists give a part of themselves to others.


I first learned about this from books, but I don't always like let me do this until I'm making a living off of art. That was the big change tapping into. I've come to think that it's important to share the personal parts of yourself with others.


I used to be hesitant about expressing my negative emotions, but the collages I had been making for a long time became a catalyst for a change. I always did collage work but I never shared them, and in 2020 I started sharing collages and then got picked up by permanent collections at two galleries in Colorado and Washington. From there it really got big. 


After that, something has changed. 

"Underground Railroad" by Jesse Freeman

"Underground Railroad" 2021


- What are the benefits of expressing emotions?

Therapy. It gives me an opportunity to overcome problems and move forward.


For example, I remembered a childhood incident that was terrible, so I make a college about it. Then I just better about myself and got it out.

Afterwards, some people would look at my collage work and say, "I didn't know you've gone through such a thing."


Over the past three years, I feel like I've gotten used to expressing my emotions.


I feel like I've been able to express a lot of my inner feelings in the three years since the covid pandemic, such as racism, childhood memories, and life issues... so next I'd like to do an exhibition on more objective subject - baseball. I'm planning to change direction more than just me and take on a new challenge.


Credit: Jesse Freeman

Collage in baseball theme


- In my personal experience (both private and work) , I get the impression that many Japanese men in their 30s and above are not good at expressing their true emotions. Especially when it comes to negative things, many people become silent, and sometimes they don't have the option to vent their feelings.

Jesse is also in his 30s, what do you think is the difference between them?


I guess I'm trying to bring about change.


Japanese people often don't need to change much. Or maybe they have a set social role and follow it.


The only thing is I don't want to pretend to be something, but I do want to make a change. However, it's lame to do something that isn't like yourself.


By the way, I like Japanese people because they tend to be quiet and it gives you a chance to learn more. Because Americans often talk too much (lol). It's like monologue, been decided.


I like thinking.


"Capitalism?"  by Jesse Freeman

"Capitalism?" 2020


- After knowing about Auteur theory through your favorite books, you began to see films and objects more deconstructively. Breaking down the mediums and layering the meaning.

You've been arranging flowers for over 10 years and now have a master certificate. You're working on photography and videography, you've also started making collages and recently quilts.


Jesse Freeman Ikebana


Jesse Freeman Ikebana Certificate

10+ years of footprints in Ikebana certifications, in the Sogetsu style.


You get more and more mediums to express yourself, such as quilts, in addition to photography, filming, Ikebana, collage... Why do you continue to express?



I'm curious about everything I see. I just want to understand things.

For example, if there is a beer bottle in front of me, I look at the shape of the bottle and think about what kind of composition it would look like in a photo. In this way, points of contact with curiosity will increase.


I'm always trying to relate them and build my next expression (artwork).


The reason I continue to create artworks is not because I want people to draw attention to me, but because I want to leave my footprints. On the other hand, it feels cheap to just want people to pay attention to myself.

Even if I don't care about myself, I want to put everything into art.

Jesse Freeman Quilts

 Quilt 56"×56"


I'm increasing mediums of expression through photography, videos, Ikebana flowers, collages, etc. because I'm curious about all sorts of things and because I get so many ideas.


To be honest, I'm not completely satisfied with each medium of expression. I always feel like something is missing...


But ideas come to me one after another, so the more mediums I can express them, the more opportunities I have to express them publicly. That's why I like increasing my mediums. With the mediums, I feel like I can express an idea whenever I want to express it. Then, opportunities come faster to me rather than being attached to one medium.


Every medium of expression has its strengths and weaknesses, so it's fun to mix things up, break them down, and think about how to create better expressions. 


I like to think, so I'm always thinking about how to express it as art.

Jesse Freeman sewing machine 

Quilt production scene



Jesse's hometown of Baltimore is said to be in the top 3 or 4 of the worst crime rate in the United States, and people are even advised not to sit with your back to the door. (You never know when someone with a gun will come in) 


The poor public safety is linked to the poverty of the people who live there, and it is easy to imagine the hardships they face in continuing to live there. I think there are many people in such places who are desperately trying to protect themselves and not able to be interested in art.


Jesse Freeman

Black Lives Matter


That's why Jesse loves living in Japan, where he can continue to express himself peacefully.


Jesse Freeman + Hara

with Hara


His dog HARA was named after Setsuko Hara, the heroine of a movie directed by Yasujiro Ozu, whom Jesse greatly admires.


Movie starring Setsuko Hara “ Late Spring ” by director Yasujiro Ozu


As a special note, this interview was happened at Chigasaki-kan in my hometown, which was the filming location by director Ozu.




Jesse continues to pursue his favorite creative activities in his favorite places.

Keep up the good work 🥳 🥳 🥳


A mini playlist by Jesse for siesta magazine😊🎶

Photos & Playlist by Jesse Freeman (@jesselfreeman)

Special thanks 🤝✨ @unoyoshihiko

Interview by Natsuko