She Who Tells A Story: A Lebanese-American Photographer Documents The Shared Experiences Of Girlhood

Nov 8, 2019

A teenage girl’s most intimate space is her bedroom. It is a place where she figures out who she is and tries on new identities. As Lebanese-American photographer Rania Matar watched her own daughters become teenagers, she became increasingly curious about the magic of that space.

She started taking portraits of girls in Lebanon and the United States and built the series “A Girl And Her Room.” In one photograph, a blonde-haired Lebanese girl named Christilla perches on a chair in her room in front of a Marilyn Monroe poster and next to a hot pink bra that hangs on a door. When this photo was on display in Boston, a viewer remarked to the museum curator that she thought the exhibit was solely portraits of Arab women. That kind of comment is the sign of a mission accomplished for Matar, who hopes her work challenges the stereotype of oppressed, veiled women in the Middle East.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Rania Matar, who grew up in Lebanon as the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, about how her photography parallels her own personal story. Selections of Matar’s series “A Girl And Her Room,” are part of a larger traveling exhibit called “She Who Tells A Story: Women Photographers From Iran and the Arab World.” That exhibit is on display at the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill until December 1.