Sweetie and Sonya on Borinquen,Brooklyn, New York, 1999
Born in 1958 in Saint-Brieuc, France, Regina Monfort left home at a young age, compelled to expand her horizons. Her love for black-and-white cinematography drove her to study photography. In 1984, after graduating from L’Ecole de Photographie de la Ville de Bruxelles, Monfort left Europe for the United States. Not interested in pursuing a career in commercial photography, she worked as an assistant photographer at the Dallas Museum of Art and later as a museum photographer for the Yale University Art Gallery. On her time off, Monfort pursued her own work with the nude figure and experimental portraiture. In 1990, shortly after moving to New York she became employed at the Irving Penn Studio where she spent seven years working closely with the photographer’s print archive.
In 1994, Monfort began photographing young people from the Puerto Rican and Dominican communities of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section. It is then that she recognized a passion for working in the documentary mode. In 1997, an essay titled, “Growing up in Brooklyn,” appeared in CultureFront Magazine. Later that year, Monfort received a prize from the Columbia School of Art resulting in an exhibition in the New York City subway. In 1998, her work was nominated for the Human Spirit Essay category as part as the annual Alfred Eisenstaedt Award in Magazine Photography. That same year, with grants from the Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts, Monfort produced outdoor slide shows in the communities she documented.
Monfort’s photographs have been exhibited at the Brooklyn Public Library, the Columbia University School of Social Work, Fotoseptiembre, Kansas State University, Lianzhou International Photo Festival, the Museum of the City of New York, The New York Public Library, PhotoEspana, Soros Open Society Institute and in the New York City Subway among other venues. Selected works are in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Library of Congress, the Museum of the City of New York, the New York Public Library and the Yale Art Gallery. Her work has appeared in DoubleTake, French Elle, El Diario, the Children’s Beat, Mixt(e), Newsday, Photo District News, The Source, The Village Voice and a number of cultural and scholarly publications.
Monfort has taught at CUNY La Guardia Community College, Pratt Institute and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her interest in the preservation of photographic legacies has brought her to work with a number of archives. From 1997 to 2003 she was assistant director on Contacts -a French documentary film series exploring the work methods of established photographers. Monfort’s other documentary projects include North High School, Iowa, 1999: Revisiting notions of identity, alienation and belonging in America at the turn of the century; Methamphetamine Addiction in the American Heartland, Kansas, 2004 and the Bronx Riviera: a cultural love affair.