- Geographic Location: Middle East and North Africa
Rania Matar was born and raised in Lebanon and moved to the US in 1984. Originally trained as an architect at Cornell University, she studied photography at the New England School of Photography and at the Maine Photographic Workshops in Mexico with Magnum photographer Constantine Manos. She currently works full-time as a photographer. Matar’s work focuses on the Middle East, mainly women and children, and her recent projects—which examine the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, the recent spread veil and its meanings, and the aftermath of war—intend to give a voice to people who have been forgotten or misunderstood. In Boston where she lives she photographs the lives of her four children. Her work has won several awards, and has been published and exhibited widely in the U.S. and internationally. She was recently awarded an artist grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, first prize at the New England Photographers Biennial and first prize in Women in Photography International. Her work was published in B&W Magazine, in Art New England, in Brookline Magazine and in Boston Globe. Currently her work is exhibited, at Michigan State University, at the Chicago Cultural Center and at Gallery Kayafas in Boston. Upcoming exhibits include the Trustman Gallery in Simmons College, Regis College, the ArtCar Museum in Houston and the Center for Contemporary Arts in Ablilene Texas. Matar’s images are part of the permanent collection of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Portland Art Museum, the De Cordova Museum, the Danforth Museum of Art, the Kresge Art Museum, the Anthony and Beth Terrana Collection and numerous private collections.
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Featured Community Voice: Rania Matar
Lebanese-born photographer Rania Matar, who currently lives in the United States, frequently travels back to her native country. On her last trip home in 2007, she documented the changing and striking ways in which Lebanese Muslim women are engaging in politics.
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I do not intend these images to be political or to represent Lebanon as a country. They focus on portraying the universality of being human, regardless of one's circumstance: what it means to be a mother, a father, a child or a young woman of any background or religion. My intent is to depict lives that are ordinary in a country that is anything but.
Behind their black veils, girls have friends, bond and giggle; mothers nurse and nurture their children in refugee camps; a nun blissfully stares at the sea from the balcony of her convent; a child brings a smile to a mother's face even while destruction surrounds them.
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