As a Lebanese-born American woman and mother, my ethnic 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.
I am interested in what it means to be a girl and a woman and how we make sense of a world that poses endless questions on girls and women of all backgrounds. In this work, I am focusing on young women – the ages of my own daughters – as they enter adulthood today and have to face a new reality they are often not prepared for, a humbling reality that is most often not as glamorous as the one portrayed on social media. I seek to portray the raw beauty of their age, their identity, their individuality, their universality, but also their vulnerability, their physicality, and how they confront the places where they live and the situations they find themselves in. I want to see beyond the ‘selfie’ attitude they might want to portray or the Instagram feed they have curated. I am photographing them, the way I, as a woman, a photographer, a mother, sees them, with no ‘filter’.
My work addresses the states of 'Becoming' –puberty, growing up, vulnerability, bodily fragility, body image, strength, imperfection, femininity –all in the context of the relationships to our specific physical environment and universal humanity. By making intimate portraits of women in the United States and in the Middle East –and while still looking to reveal the individuality of each woman who poses before me, 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. -Rania Matar