Originally trained as an architect at Cornell University, Rania Matar has studied documentary photography at NESOP and currently works full-time as a freelance photojournalist and editorial photographer. Matar has exhibited at venues such as the South End Open Studios and the Cambridge Art Association. In 2004, she was named one of the Top Photographers in the Portraits and People category of Maine Photographic Workshops’ prestigious Golden Light Awards. This spring, she will show a selection from her refugee series at the Boston Public Library’s South End Branch (March 28-May 15, 2005).

Featured online will be work from an ongoing project focusing the camp culture and worsening humanitarian conditions of the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. An estimated 360,000 Palestinian refugees live in 12 camps around Lebanon, but are not integrated into the larger society, remaining tragically, permanently temporary. Through her thoughtfully and beautifully composed images, she attempts to speak to the inner life of these provisional cities and grant her sitters individuality and dignity. Atmosphere is key in Matar’s images. Light creates a soft, spiritual glow—cascading into corridors, piercing a make-shift doorway, or illuminating smoke in front of a young girl’s face. In choosing this selection, I have consciously alternated between the elders and the children, to enforce Matar’s hope—that these children will someday know what lies beyond the camp’s walls.

- Leslie K. Brown, PRC Curator

Click here for Matar's web site.


Liz Daly
March 2005

Steve Deane
February 2005

Andrew Warren
January 2005

Jane Hesser

December 2004

Jessica Burko
November 2004

Amy Montali

October 2004

Luke Snyder

September 2004

Matthew Gamber
August 2004

Mariliana Arvelo
July 2004

Ken Richardson

June 2004

Julie Melton
May 2004

Marlo Marrero
April 2004

Erik Gould
March 2004

Mori Insinger
February 2004

Jen Kodis

January 2004

Amber Davis
December 2003

Paul Taggart

November 2003

Marla Sweeney
October 2003

Dylan Vitone
September 2003

Click here for more information
about the Northeast Exposure.



This project documents the conditions of the Palestinians living in refugee camps in Lebanon at a time where the world is hopeful for a historic peace in the Middle East.

A Forgotten Population

There are an estimated 360,000 Palestinian refugees who live in deplorable conditions in refugee camps scattered around Lebanon and whose temporary status of refugees for over 50 years is becoming permanent as third and fourth generations are being born and raised.

These photos were taken in a variety of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon in the past three years. The camps are not integrated in Lebanese social or economic life. Lebanon healing itself from a brutal civil war and afraid of upsetting its delicate sectarian balance refuses to grant the (mostly Moslem) Palestinians refugees any rights that might seem to bring them closer to naturalization. As a result they are banned from most professions and have to depend on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the local NGOs for education, health and basic human services.

Despite such a gloomy picture, I found inspiration in a population struggling to keep its roots and culture alive, in people who are very hospitable and welcoming into their homes, in kids who make the best out of the little the camp offers them. I found inspiration in the incredible capacity of people to adapt and make the best of their circumstances so they can preserve their dignity, their hope and their humanity.

These photographs intend to portray the humanity of this refugee population, to document their lives and show their everyday situations: playing, working, talking; and as such put a human face on a long forgotten people in search of a home.

A voice says, Look me in the stars
And tell me truly, men of earth
If all the soul-and-body scars
Were not too much to pay for birth

- Robert Frost (Am. Poet, 1874-1963): “A Question”

- Rania Matar

Click here if you’d like to help American Near East Refugee Aid, an organization for which Matar has photographed.