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Rania Matar
Rania Matar by Geoffrey Berliner
Rania Matar
Rania Matar

Rania Matar

Country: Lebanon/United States

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, the Carnegie Museum of Art, National Museum of Women in the Arts, and more. 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.

Her work is in the permanent collections of several museums, institutions and private collections worldwide.

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.

All about "SHE":

As a Lebanese-born American woman and mother, my background and 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.

In my continuous exploration of what it is like to be a girl and a woman today, in a world that poses endless questions on girls and women of all backgrounds, I am focusing in this project on young women in their late teens/early twenties. They are the ages of my daughters - they are leaving the cocoon of home, entering adulthood and facing a new reality they are often not prepared for, a humbling reality most often harder than they expected and less glamorous than what is portrayed on social media. Whereas in A Girl and Her Room, I photographed young women in relationship to the curated and controlled environment of their bedrooms, I am photographing them here in the larger environment they find themselves in after they leave home, the more global backdrop that now constitutes their lives in transitions.

I want to portray the raw beauty of their age, their individuality, their physicality, their mystery, and the organic relationship they create with their environment, being in the lush landscapes of rural Ohio, or the textured backdrops of Beirut. I want to photograph them, the way I, a woman and a mother, see them: beautiful, alive. I want to create a personal narrative with them. The process is about collaboration and empowerment, and the photo session always evolves organically as the women become active participants in the image-making process.

My work addresses the states of 'Becoming' - the beauty and the vulnerability of growing up - in the context of the visceral relationships to our physical environment and universal humanity. By collaborating with women in the United States and in the Middle East - and while still looking to reveal the individuality of each young woman - I focus on our essence, our physicality and the commonalities that make us human, ultimately highlighting how female subjectivity develops in parallel forms across cultural lines.

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Satement Whenever I create my art I fully represent my emotions on the screen. I always communicate extremely simple messages in my photography, but those are also the most powerful ones in my opinion. The Secrets To Breathtaking Cityscapes
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Over more than 50 years, largely outside the mainstream, Robert Bergman has pursued a vision of advancing psychological and philosophical depth in photography and of transcending the boundaries between painting and photography. In Toni Morrison's words in her introduction to his classic 1998 book A Kind of Rapture, his color portraits are "... a master template of the singularity, the community, and the unextinguishable sacredness of the human race." In his Epilogue to that book, the pre-eminent art historian, Professor Meyer Schapiro, wrote, "... his recent color portraits ... have no forerunners in photography. ... he has introduced the processes of unification, as in painting, with the search for harmony, movement, variety and distinction within it, beyond what I have ever seen in a photograph.... His finest works bring to mind some of the greatest painted portraits. ... truly profound works of art." Placing Bergman in the context of other, better known master American photographers, John Yau, poet, critic, and author of The United States of Jasper Johns, has said, "Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, and William Eggleston. ...he is certainly in their league. ... One day Bergman will get credit for the richness of his photographs, the way they transcend image." Robert Bergman is currently producing a limited edition KEY SET of new master prints of 150-200 photographs that, together with the 51 A Kind of Rapture prints, will reveal the organic unity, the arc, of his creative journey: black & white street work of people and cityscapes; black & white portraits in nursing homes; black & white abstracts; hundreds of color portraits on the streets of American cities; and most recently, large-scale color abstracts. Bergman has had solo exhibitions at The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, MoMA/P.S.1 in New York, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Yossi Milo Gallery in New York, and Michael Hoppen Contemporary in London. Group shows include the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, MoMA, the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the "Come Together: Surviving Sandy" exhibition in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to the collections of the Hill Art Foundation and Agnes Gund, President Emerita, MoMA, and numerous other individual's collections, Robert Bergman's work is in the permanent collections of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, which recently acquired a vintage set of the 51 A Kind of Rapture color portraits, the Cleveland Museum, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The National Gallery of Art, the 21C Museum in Louisville, KY. His work has also been highlighted in books, magazines, and newspapers in the United States, Great Britain, France, and Germany as well as on National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System. He received the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2017.
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