Mara Catalán’s first monograph, Williamsburg, A Place I Once Called Home, is a coming-of-
age story of a young Spanish immigrant who moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 1994 and
became part of its history.
Mara arrived in the United States in 1990 with little money and
without any concrete intention to stay. Living from day to day, she found a cheap place to live
and people who cared for her in Williamsburg.
The book documents Mara’s personal journey from 1994 to 1996 in a neighborhood where she
felt free to be herself. Each photograph represents the Williamsburg that belongs to her. Written
in Spanish and English, Mara tries to unify two worlds that collide. Images, personal letters,
diary entries, and stories provoke feelings of nostalgia and loss that work as a mirror in which
viewers can see themselves.
The work is an extensive collection of black and white archival photographs-an urban
documentation of an era that has now disappeared. Due to the gentrification of Williamsburg,
many of the buildings and places in Mara’s photographs no longer exist. A Place I Once Called
Home is Mara’s way of bringing back a past that should not be forgotten.
Mara Catalán is a fine art B&W printer and documentary photographer based in Brooklyn, New
York. Born in Madrid, Mara moved to New York in 1990 to apprentice as a darkroom technician
with Gar Lillard at Lab One and work as a photographer. In 1995, Mara moved to Chiapas,
Mexico, where she worked as archivist, restorer, and printer in the photography archives of the
Na-Bolom Museum in San Cristobal de Las Casas. Mara returned to New York in 1997 to work
as a fine printer for Magnum Photos. In 2000, she set up her Studio304 and Lab2 in
She is currently a TA at ICP’s Community Partnerships and a teaching artist at
the Josephine Herrick Project. www.maracatalan.com