Marilyn Montufar poses for a portrait on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Seattle. 
    Slideshow Icon 5 slides
Enlarge Icon
Marilyn Montufar poses for a portrait on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

On being Mexican-American from this Seattleite-Chicana

Marilyn Montufar is fascinated by life on the edge.

Not the metaphorical risky edge; Montufar means civilization’s edge.

“I’m really interested in photographing in the outskirts of major American cities,” she says.

Her work documents life in towns along the U.S./Mexico border—from Baja to Texas. Montufar shoots portraits of people she meets on her long road trips, but she also captures the stark landscapes she travels through.

Montufar first took up a camera in high school in her native Los Angeles. She’s a first generation Mexican-American, and she took photos of the Chicano culture that surrounded her.

After Montufar moved north to Seattle six years ago, she says people treated her like a foreigner.

“I’m constantly being asked ‘where are you from,’” she says. “I think a lot of people of color have that experience.”

While she finds the questions annoying, they’ve also pushed her to use her artwork to learn more about her own heritage.

“When I started doing photography, I was looking outward. Eventually, it started coming inward, a self-reflection on being Chicana and belonging to two cultures.”

Marilyn Montufar’s border photographs are currently on display at Gallery4Culture in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood.