As a Lebanese/Palestinian-born American woman and mother, my cross-cultural experiences inform my art. I have dedicated my work to exploring issues of personal and collective identity through photographs of female adolescence and womanhood – both in the United States where I live and the Middle East where I am from – in an effort to focus on notions of identity and individuality, within the context of the underlying universality of these experiences.
I am interested in what it means to be a girl and a woman today, in a world that poses endless questions on girls and women of all backgrounds. My work is personal and autobiographical, always inspired by my daughters as I watch them grow up and transform from little girls to beautiful young women. An Image and Her Woman comprises work from different projects – L’Enfant-Femme, Becoming, A Girl and Her Room, SHE, and Unspoken Conversations – that have been following girls’ and women’s transformations through the years, creating a narrative that traces the contours of a woman’s identity from pre-puberty to middle age. Although most of the images portray different women, together they show a shared humanity in their collective display of a progression of time through a woman’s life, addressing themes of family, cultural identity, and growing up.
The exhibition includes different bodies of my work tracing the development of womanhood from pre-puberty to middle age. AUB is a very special place to me and my family and I am immensely honored to have an exhibition at the campus gallery.
Rania Matar was born and raised in Lebanon and moved to the U.S. in 1984. As a Lebanese-born American woman and mother, her cross-cultural experience and personal narrative inform her photography.
Matar’s work has been widely published and exhibited in museums worldwide, including the Museum of Fine Arts/Boston, Carnegie Museum of Art, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Sharjah Museum of Art, National Portrait Gallery/London, and more. It is part of the permanent collections of several museums, institutions and private collections. A mid-career retrospective of her work was recently on view at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, in a solo exhibition: In Her Image: Photographs by Rania Matar.
She has received several grants and awards including a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, 2017 Mellon Foundation artist-in-residency grant at the Gund Gallery at Kenyon College, 2011 Legacy Award at the Griffin Museum of Photography, 2011 and 2007 Massachusetts Cultural Council artist fellowships. In 2008 she was a finalist for the Foster Award at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, with an accompanying solo exhibition.
She has published three books:
L’Enfant-Femme, 2016; A Girl and Her Room, 2012; Ordinary Lives, 2009.
She is currently associate professor of photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and regularly offers workshops, talks, class visits and lectures at museums, galleries, schools and colleges in the US and abroad.
Rania Matar : An Image and Her Woman
Exhibition Curated by Rico Frances
January 20 – February 15, 2020
Opening Reception January 20, 6–8 PM
American University of Beirut Art Gallery