Marisa is just one of the amazing women I met traveling through Israel. Originally from Minnesota, we are practically neighbours. Marisa is one of the most talented photographers I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and she has a heart of gold on top of that. When she told me about the work she was doing with survivors of sexual assault I knew I had to interview her and spread the word about her exhibition. Keep reading for her interview and ways to find more of her work online. She is an inspiration, traveling the world, pursuing her passions and dreams and inspiring everyone she meets.
Tell Us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
My name is Marissa Murdy and I am 24 years old from Minnesota, USA. I am a photographer, traveler & women’s rights activist dabbling in many different areas. You might see me posting beautiful weddings photos, tropical island landscapes, documentary work from traveling, hostel photos, or nude photos of survivors of sexual assault. I don’t fit into one perfect category and maybe one day I will, but for now I will enjoy this crazy, beautiful lifestyle I have created.
Currently, I am photographing survivors of domestic abuse for a window display in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I am photographing survivors in Minnesota and internationally and am honored to be able to raise awareness about violence against women through my art.
Why did you choose to start your photography business?
At first, I started taking photography classes in high school and slowly started photographing my friends and family for fun. I photographed my first wedding when I was 17 years old and from then on I decided photography could be more than just a hobby for me. I received a scholarship to go to college at the University of Minnesota Duluth for photography and eventually started getting more gigs and business throughout the years. It really just happened through time and now here I am! I will always say that I chose to become a traveler and activist for women’s rights but the photography life chose me. lol.
What inspires you?
Women of the world who have been through so much but are still smiling and living their life to the fullest. Hearing their stories inspires me to keep photographing strong women.
What is your personal mantra or mission statement?
Embrace vulnerability & be the change you want to see in the world!
What does happiness mean to you?
Happiness to me is when I realize I can’t stop smiling, when I am confident in my body and myself. When I realize I don’t need a man to make me happy – I’m like Fuck yes this is happiness and put on my heels when I am already 6 foot.
What are your hobbies?
Basically if I am not doing something with photography then you can find me looking up cheap flights to anywhere in the world, thrifting or catching happy hour with friends. Oh! & I am a crazy cat lady.
What are a few things you do every single day to keep yourself on track?
Some small things I do everyday is post on Instagram to keep getting my work out there. Everyday I am looking up gallery openings, events going on wherever I am & photography competitions to stay active in the community. These little things definitely add up in the end!
If you could give advice to someone looking to get into your field what would it be and why?
To become a successful photographer takes time, it won’t happen overnight. If you are passionate about what you are photographing then don’t give up and take it in your own hands to turn your hobby into a career. Be honest with your work, don’t hold back.
What has been your most rewarding experience so far? Work or personal
The most rewarding experience I have had was having my solo exhibition when I graduated college. The exhibition was called Our Experiences: Surviving Sexual Assault, showing portraits of survivors as well as their handwritten stories. It was powerful and personal and I cannot express how nervous I was for the opening night and how people would react. After the show I received so many emails, notes and people coming up to me telling me thank you and how seeing the exhibition has helped them personally or deeply affected them. For me, to show my art and have other survivors tell me they don’t feel alone anymore is the most rewarding thing I could ever do. This is truly what art and social change is about for me and what motivates me to continue. This has also led to a current project I am working on photographing survivors of domestic abuse for a window display.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your life thus far? What did you learn? Are you thankful for what it taught you?
The biggest challenge for me was defining myself as a nude photographer. The backlash I received from friends, family & strangers is undeniable. For 3 years, I only photographed people in the nude. It taught me who my true friends were, who believed in my work and me as a artist. This was a crucial period in my life, realizing that I need to stick up for what I believe in and be confident in myself and my art. It has taught me many things and I am proud of my 18 year old self for choosing courage over comfort.
Who is your role model/ who has been the most influential person in your life?
The most influential people in my life have been my photography professors Wanda Pearcy & Kristen Pless. They truly helped shape me as an artist and believed in me.
When do you feel most inspired?
I feel most inspired when I am traveling. I love the feeling of being in a new city, meeting new people and then being on a plane home and reflecting on the experiences I just had. Recently I was just in Berlin and although it wasn’t the most beautiful city I have seen, it was so inspiring and perfect for young artists. I went to a photography exhibition while I was there and was inspired to create and document my life ever since. Surrounding myself with other travelers, photographers and strong women is the key.