Michael P. Smith Fund For Documentary Photography 2017 Finalist Marisa Chafetz, 2nd Place Marisa Chafetz: Second Place Winner MPS 2017

I had an idyllic upbringing, I grew up in a commune of sorts, with three moms and three dads, and seven brothers and sisters. Our story is serendipitous, unlikely, and beautiful. I relive my memories like reading a novel, as if our past might still be taking place in the present in some alternate universe. In recent years, our family has fallen apart in monumental ways. We mourned losses one after another, as if the tragic momentum was unstoppable. I grew up knowing that falling backwards would mean two dozen hands, outstretched to catch me, and suddenly falling means descending into cold, empty air.

This series, titled, 'We are Ugly but We Have the Music', is my attempt to understand what is left. My childhood meant knowing, it meant being sure. Now, right in the thick of it, I'm still staring out at what feels like a sea of uncertainty and change. If my childhood was easy to know, a series of stories so magnificent, they sound like fiction- how can I understand my family's present: often full of heartache, loneliness, and banality? What is the reality of what we are now, after our fall from grace? With this series, I explore this reality by delving into my memories, while concurrently attempting to make peace with present.

Marisa Chafetz is a New Orleans based artist who works primarily in photography. Her work explores the blurred lines between fictional tableaus and traditional documentary photography. She often deals with topics such as family life, American suburbia, and coming of age. In 2017 she received a George Lurcy Grant and was awarded the Alberta 'Rusty' Collier Memorial Award for 2D Art. Additionally, a photo she made for New York Magazine's 'Sex on Campus' cover story won an American Photography Award and was published in American Photography 32.

Congratulations to all of the Finalists in the 2017 Michael P. Smith Fund For Documentary Photography