Lebanese-American photographer Rania Matar uses the portrait to examine the nature of female identity in girlhood, adolescence, and middle age in the United States and the Middle East. Born and raised in Beirut of Palestinian descent, Matar has lived in the United States since 1984. In her art, she emphasizes “underlying similarities rather than apparent differences across cultures,” and looks for the “beauty in our shared humanity.”
This exhibition of 42 large-scale color images made between 2009 and 2016 surveys four different series by the artist. L’Enfant-Femme explores how girls on the cusp of puberty often adopt stereotypical personas derived from mass media when posing for the camera. Matar re-photographed some of those girls three years later to create Becoming: pairs of images chronicling the transition to womanhood. A Girl and Her Room portrays teens in their bedrooms—the personal spaces that best reflect their inner selves. The final series, Unspoken Conversations, juxtaposes adolescent daughters and their middle-aged mothers to convey the complexity and universality of the mother-daughter relationship.