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Artist Profile Series: Marilyn Montufar

Erika Enomoto

Communications Manager

Marilyn Montufar, Tony in Bed, photograph, 2013

Marilyn Montufar is an artist, art activist, and youth educator based in Seattle. A dual citizen of Mexico and the United States, she is interested in bridging connections between artists of the neighboring countries through visual arts and education.

In 2015, Marilyn was awarded Grants for Artists Projects (GAP) funding, which assisted in bringing her visual art project originally titled “Capturing Community: Portraits of Women and Their Environments in Contemporary America” to life. Over the years, this project grew and culminated into the exhibition Transcending Identity: impressions of people, community, and landscapes opening at Gallery 4Culture on Thursday, February 1.

Self-identifying as a Mexican-American, Marilyn straddles her two cultures without fully belonging to or claiming one over the other. This lived experience led her to investigate identity constructs and its relation to people and place, a reoccurring theme in her work. Photographs on view in Transcending Identity trace her travels to California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. The subjects of her photographs range from family members to strangers that she’s come across by happenstance.

Last year, Marilyn visited Juárez, Mexico to further her exploration of identity and place in the Texas-Chihuahua border city, which is rooted in both Mexican and American culture. “I believe that the artist’s role is to raise questions about society. In 2017, as a reaction to the political climate in the U.S. and as an extension of the series I was already building, I began photographing communities throughout Mexico,” she says. “The experience opened a window to my own heritage and has allowed me to share a different reality than what is portrayed in mainstream media.”

Upon receiving awards like GAP, the Artists Up Grant LAB, and launching a successful crowdfunding campaign, Marilyn’s best advice for artists looking for arts funding and similar opportunities is “to reach out to friends and artists for support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from these individuals nor the organizations that are offering the grant you’re interested in. These organizations are happy to help and give insight on what a successful grant looks like.” She also encourages artists to attend professional development workshops being held by the organizations that they are seeking funding from. “Don’t give up! Keep applying to more opportunities.”

Transcending Identity: impressions of people, community, and landscapes opens at Gallery 4Culture on Thursday, February 1, and an artist reception will be held from 6:00 - 8:00 PM. Marilyn will lead an artist talk at the gallery on Thursday, February 15, 12:30 PM.