Rania Matar was born and raised in Lebanon and moved to the U.S. in 1984. Originally trained as an architect at the American University of Beirut and at Cornell University, she worked as an architect before studying photography at the New England School of Photography and the Maine Photographic Workshops. She currently works full time on her personal photography projects and teaches photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Matar also taught photography in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon with the collaboration of local NGOs.
Matar’s work focuses mainly on girls and women. Earlier projects recorded the lives of women and children in the Middle East, and over the past few years she has completed A Girl and Her Room and developed a new project L’Enfant-Femme. Matar has won numerous awards, including the 2011 Legacy Award at the Griffin Museum of Photography, 2011 and 2007 Massachusetts Cultural Council artist fellowship, first place at the New England Photographer Biennial and Women in Photography International. She has received honorable mentions at 2010 UNICEF Picture of the Year Award, Lens Culture Exposure International, Silver Eye Center for Photography Fellowship, and CENTER. She was selected at one of the Top 100 Distinguished Women Photographers by Women in Photography, and was finalist for the Foster Award at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston with a solo exhibition at the ICA, Boston. Her images are in the permanent collections of several museums worldwide and her work is represented by galleries in Boston, Beirut, Singapore and Dubai.
Matar’s work has been widely exhibited in the US and internationally most recently at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston as part of She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and The Arab World, and in solo exhibitions at Carroll and Sons Art Gallery Boston, the Southeast Museum of Photography Florida, Blue Sky Gallery in Portland Oregon, Leica Gallery in Solms and Warsaw, Sana Gallery in Singapore , Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg Germany and Galerie Janine Rubeiz in Beirut. Exhibits in the spring of 2014 include Ordinary Lives and Deserted Spaces at Fotofest 2014 in Houston, TX and at the Arab-American Museum in Dearborn, MI, Women of the Middle East at Toot Tung Art Gallery in Bangkok and the Alliance Francaise de Singapour, and The Other and Me at the Sharjah Art Museum.
Matar published two books. A Girl and Her Room, her second book with essays by Anne Tucker and Susan Minot, was recently listed as one of the best photo books of 2012 on PDN, Photo-Eye, British Journal of Photography, Feature Shoot and Le Journal de la Photographie. Her first book Ordinary Lives was published in 2009 with an essay by Pulitzer Prize winner, the late Anthony Shadid. Her work is also currently featured in the exhibition catalog of She Who Tells a Story published by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
2014 The Other and Me, Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah UAE Curated by Colin G. Reaney and Jassim Al Awadhi
2014 Rania Matar, Photography, Toot Yung Art Center, Bangkok Thailand
2014 Ordinary Lives: Women of the Middle East, Societe Generale Gallery, Alliance Francaise de Singapour, Singapore
2014 Ordinary Lives, Arab-American Museum, Dearborn MI Gallery 21, Tôkyô
2014 Deserted Spaces and Ordinary People FotoFest 2014, Bank of America Center, Houston TX
2014 She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World, Museum of Fine Art, Boston, Boston MA, Henry and Lois Foster Gallery (Gallery 158), Curated by Kristen Gresh
2008 She Who Tells a Story Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World Kristen Gresh with a foreword by Michket Krifa