Monica Lozano, 33, bonded with photography at age 9, captivated by her pink Polaroid. Now upgraded to modern gear and holding a master's in photography, she focuses on ways to bring the world closer together by documenting life on the border — and beyond.
Her work is on exhibit in New York, Barcelona, Mexico City, and El Paso, Texas, where she now resides. She also recently discussed her efforts to "humanize the struggle along the border" at the September TEDx El Paso event, "Defying Borders." (See her segment at 8:10:56).
This interview, conducted by Jody Brannon, has been edited for length and clarity.
I was born in El Paso. but was just an infant when we returned to Ciudad Juarez. When I was 14, I started high school in El Paso. I studied at San Antonio Community College but went back to Monterrey to finish college, earning my degree in visual arts. In retaking a photography class, I began to experiment in the streets of downtown Ciudad Juarez, and I found beauty where you might not think there is much.
I went to Minneapolis to live with my aunt and uncle and I got a job doing graphics for a TV station, and my boss let me use the station's camera on weekends. I realized I had the ideas and I could see what I wanted to take photos of, but I didn't have the technology skills. My aunt and uncle operate the Carpenter Education Fund and offered me a scholarship to study photography in Spain. There I presented a project on border portraits that was inspired by my earlier work in Juarez and by a photo my mom sent me about a guy who hid himself in a car seat to try to cross the border.