Ordinary Lives: Photography by Rania Matar

Image: Barbie Girl, Beirut (2006)

March 7 – Aug. 31, 2014
Lower Level Gallery 


“No one will forget the women and children… the ordinary lives in times that are cursed by being anything but ordinary.” So said Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Anthony Shadid of Ordinary Lives, a series of compelling images captured by the Boston-based Lebanese photographer Rania Matar in the aftermath of the Lebanon War that took place during the summer of 2006.

This exhibition presents a selection of images from Ordinary Lives, in which Matar documents in stark black and white the mundane activities of everyday life amid the ongoing political and social turmoil of post-war Lebanon. The exhibition of 26 images includes a mini-series of color photos entitled Remains, which also presents the everyday lives of Lebanese people in stark contrast to their physical surroundings.

By eschewing political commentary and focusing on what is left behind, Matar brings humanity and personality to images of destruction and debris. The energy and determination of her subjects are dramatically conveyed, serving as a powerful and universal reminder of the tender bond between a mother and child, the cheerful camaraderie of friends and the resilience of the human spirit.

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 studied photography at the New England School of Photography and the Maine Photographic Workshops. Matar started teaching photography in 2009 and offered summer photography workshops to teenage girls in Lebanon’s refugee camps with the assistance of non-governmental organizations. She now teaches photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and regularly offers talks, class visits and lectures at museums, galleries, schools and colleges in the U.S. and abroad. 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.


Made possible in part by

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  • March 7, 2014 - August 31, 2014