Fall 2017 Bios & Abstracts

Lectures, Conferences & Events

Homecoming Queen
Raya Ani
Founder & Design Director, RAW-NYC Architects

Raya is an award winning Architect and urban designer with 25 years of professional experience having worked in Baghdad, Germany, Boston, New York and Dubai.
In 2015,2016 and 2017, she was named one of the Top most powerful Architects in the Middle East.
She received her BSC in Architectural Engineering from Baghdad University with distinctions, and an MS in Architectural studies from MIT where she was awarded the Harvard / MIT Aga Khan Scholarship. Raya is the 2017 President of the American Institute of Architects-Middle East; she is a licensed Architect in the State of New York and a US Green Building Council Accredited Professional.
Raya has designed the first public green school in New York City and two green- certified (LEED) residential towers in Battery Park City. In 2011, she was nominated for the Middle-East Architect of the year Award and her work was highly commended by the jury. In 2012, she founded RAW-NYC Architects, an interdisciplinary architectural studio based in New York City and Dubai.
In 2013, she received AIA-ME honor award for her visionary work on the marshes of southern Iraq as well as a merit award for her design of Aspire sports complex in Qatar. In 2014, Her Aspire Sports complex project received the Leisure Project of the Year Award by Middle East Architect. In 2015, one of RAW-NYC Architects’ commercial projects was named “Most innovative Commercial structure” in Build Magazine’s 2015 Architecture Awards.
She has taught urban and architectural design studios and served as a guest critic at a number of leading architectural schools in New York and Boston. She is a regular guest speaker at many international architectural conferences including Harvard Arab conference where she moderated a panel on the future of the Arab city. She has been an active participant in workshops to help design schools and build communities.

Her research focuses on future living, future cities, economic and social sustainability and the intersection between technology, innovation and sustainability. 

Womanhood: From Personal to Universal
​Photographs by Rania Matar

Rania Matar
Photographer, Massachusetts College of Art & Design

As a Lebanese-born American woman and mother, Matar has dedicated her artistic practice to exploring both sides of her cultural background, cross-cultural experience, and personal narrative, in addressing issues of personal and collective identity, through photographing girls and women both in the United States where she lives and in the Middle East where she is from. Focusing on both cultures is especially important to her in the current political climate we live in, where the  ‘them vs. us’ rhetoric is so prevalent.
Throughout her work, and by making intimate portraits of girls and women, she seeks to focus on our essence, our physicality and on the commonalities that make us human, to emphasize underlying similarities rather than apparent differences. In addition she will talk about her experiences living through wars and her immediate interaction with Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. While her photographs may not provide answers or solutions, they can act as moments of contemplation in finding beauty in our shared humanity.

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 'Personal Documentary Photography' and 'Portrait and Identity' classes 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. In the spring and fall of 2017, she was the artist-in-residence at The Gund Gallery at Kenyon College.
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 and private collections worldwide.
A mid-career retrospective of Matar’s work will be exhibited at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, in a solo exhibition titled In Her Image, December 2017 – June, 2018.
She has published three books: 
L’Enfant-Femme, 2016; A Girl and Her Room, 2012; Ordinary Lives, 2009.