Rania Matar was born and raised in Lebanon and moved to America in 1984. Originally trained as an architect she then went on to studied photography. Matar started teaching
photography in 2009 and offered summer photography workshops to teenage girls in Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps with the assistance of non-governmental organizations. She now teaches Personal Documentary Photography, and Portrait and Identity and regularly offers talks, class visits and lectures at
museums, galleries, schools and colleges in America and abroad.
Matar’s work focuses on girls and women. As a Lebanese-born American woman and mother, her cultural background, cross-cultural experience, and personal narrative informs her photography. She has dedicated her work to exploring both sides of this identity: addressing issues of personal and collective identity, through
photographs mining female adolescence and womanhood both in the United States where she lives and the Middle East where she is from. Her work has won several awards, has been featured in numerous publications, and exhibited widely in the U.S. and internationally. Her images are in the permanent collections of several museums worldwide. As an award winning photographer she created a book called ‘A Girl and Her Room’ the book reveals the lives of girls from two disparate worlds, the book has photos
taken from across America and Lebanon. Set in the girls’ bedrooms which range from extraordinary cleanliness to chaotic disarray. These portraits offer an insider’s perspective of not just who these young women are, but the physical spaces that prove to be extensions of their identities. Rania Matar has three different photo books out now, the second was ‘A Girl and Her Room’ Her first book, ‘Ordinary Lives’, was published in 2009.
Her latest book is called ‘L’Enfant Femme, “From our first meeting I sensed a kindred spirit in Rania Matar. We are both women of two worlds, striving to bridge the divides between cultures, both passionate about the rights of women and those who are
dis-empowered. She grew up in Beirut and moved to America in the wake of civil war. I am Arab-American by birth, raised and educated in a Judeo Christian society before leaving to work in the Middle East. I embraced Islam shortly before marrying a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, HM King Hussein of Jordan. Rania and I are two among millions for whom Western and Middle Eastern cultures are not mutually exclusive world views destined for confrontation. Rather, they combine to hope who we are and what we believe. All this is exemplified in the beautiful and sensitive
images in Rania’s stunning book, L’Enfant-Femme. These moving photographs evoke a fundamental sense of cross cultural understanding. Matar strips away the confines of societal labels from both herself and the girls she photographs. She exposes the boundaries of American and Arab cultures in order to reconcile them. They are not simply American; they are not simply Arab; neither are they simply Muslim, Christian, nor Jewish. These girls are simply girls – but much more besides. These are images of girls at the point where they are beginning to become women a powerful combination of youth, womanhood and beauty.”