Marissa Alper is an artist located in Richmond, Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland. She is currently pursuing a BFA in Photography and Painting at Virginia Commonwealth University.
I came across Marissa whilst killing some time on Instagram. I became really intrigued by this fan of ‘The Voidz’ who seemed to always capture their best shots from live shows.
Her high quality photographs of the band, The Voidz, and other artists, including Promiseland have been used and received credit by the artists, whilst also being shared in abundance on social media, in general.
Marissa’s work is not only in the musical world, but also explores her experience bridging the gap between adolescence and adulthood. While exploring this, she touches on different aspects of her personal life and her relationships with those around her.
Writing to Marissa, I wanted to understand way more, and everything in between about this ‘unique’ girl from a privileged suburb in rural, Maryland.
Read on to hear about her upbringing, inspirations, tips and equipment regarding her creativity as well as much more!
How are you right now?
I’m okay! I’ve been sick for the past few days so I’ve just been chilling in bed hoping I feel better.
In what essence has Virginia and Maryland inspired your work?
There was a lot of privilege in the suburban part of Maryland I grew up in. I began noticing self destruction within that privilege in high school which is part of what inspired me to first start photographing. I was also inspired by the suburban landscape I grew up in. Everything was cookie cutter and uniform which made me look for things that stood out of that mold. I moved to Virginia for college so it doesn’t inspire my work as much. The people I surround myself with in Virginia provide more sources of inspiration than Virginia itself.
Equipment you swear by?
Unpopular opinion, but I don’t really feel like equipment matters that much. Having a nice digital camera is incredibly helpful (I use a canon 6d) but there are so many ways to work around not having great equipment especially if you’re good at what you do. I love my pentax k1000 film camera. It was my first film camera and I still use it all the time!
Best/worst thing about your role as a photographer.
I can’t really think of any negatives to being a photographer besides the job market haha. A lot of the negatives that relate directly to being a photographer go hand in hand with positives. We are visual story tellers and what we’re trying to say can do exactly what we want it to do to the viewer but it can also be misinterpreted so we’re constantly walking that fine line. My favorite thing about being a photographer is seeing someone light up when they like their image.
Does painting and photographer inspire, and correspond in your artistic journey?
Painting and Photography used to go hand in hand for me. They were both huge aspects of my art form. As I’ve continued with my education as an artist, painting has become something that’s more relaxed than photographing because it is not my major.
Tell me a briefly, or expansively about yourself?
I don’t think I know where to start, it’s hard for me to talk about myself without specific questions if that makes sense?
Where do you source YOUR inspiration?
A lot of things! The people I surround myself with (family & friends), traveling, looking at other photographers work, museums, music, nature.
In what way do is your work personal?
I make my art about my personal life because it feels like the only thing I have full rights to speak on. I touch on my struggle with mental illness, womanhood, life & death, longings to feel validated, everyday life, and many other things that affect who I am. Photographing is my form of diary so anything that you’d write in a locked diary about, I take photographs about. The only difference is I’m sharing my locked diary with whoever wants to see it.
Which photographers, if any, have influenced or inspired?
Some constant photographers I’m always looking at are Nan Goldin, Ryan Mcginley, Elinor Carucci, Tierney Gearon, and Michael Northrup. I am really inspired by student work though. I’ve met some amazing artists this year through school and traveling such as Clara DeWeese (http://claradeweese.com), Jessica Taylor (http://jessicataylore.com), Mariangela Serrano (http:// bymariangelaserrano.tumblr.com), and so many more.
Are there any other avenues you wish to touch, or try within your future artistic endeavours?
I’m really open to changing my artistic path as I go. I’d love to experiment with sculpture and instillation more.
Areas of your work touches upon ‘your’ relationships with others. In what ways do you relate to human kind?
I think it would be unfair to say I can relate to human kind but I think putting my vulnerabilities out to the world give other people a chance to feel like they can open up as well.
The Tinder curation is fire. How did you manage to select your tinder candidate? By the usual, straight method of trait and physical
attraction, or did you find your choices bound by an assignment?
Thank you!! It was a little bit of a mixture. I started by just swiping right on everyone and hanging out with anyone interested in the project. But I hadn’t paid for tinder to I ran out of people very quickly. That’s when I just went back to using tinder “normally” and swiping based on attractiveness (or sometimes I swiped if someone looked nice or artsy). My control variables could have been better but I wasn’t sure how to start so I started somewhere and then adapted as I went. If I were to do this project again, I would have kept myself bound by more parameters.
Do you think that social media and smart phones are assisting or opposing photography?
I guess a bit of a mixture. When there are true photographers who care about their art form, work hard, etc, their work is often overlooked because people are taking in so much visual imagery all day since smartphones have made photography so easy. On the other hand, social media provides a platform for artists to get themselves established and their work out into the world.
What tips could you recommend for our readers who wish to pursue photography?
Make work that speaks to you and don’t worry about what other people are doing, work hard, have open dialogues about your art with other creatives, welcome constructive criticism, be open minded.
Are you happy?
Hahaha an intense question. My happiness comes in waves. I’ve been feeling pretty good recently but I struggle with anxiety and depression so we’ll see if it lasts. As of right now, I am content.
How do you feel right now (could be about anything?)
Annoyed that Beardo posted two of my photos from the Voidz show and didn’t credit me for either.
provide me with a list of things that make you happy.
Walking in nature
Long, carefree drives with friends
Listening to a song I’m obsessed with on repeat,
Meaningful connections with people