Born in Lebanon, lived and worked in Beirut and Paris. BA in Graphic Design from AUB. Exhibited at the International Museum of Women/SF, USA, Studio 4-11/Belfast, the ADG, Xanadu, the Art Lounge, Kent Explora and Daraj El Fan in Beirut. Featured in various magazines and books in Lebanon, UK, SF & LA in USA and also in the Arab world. Awarded AUB’s Short Animation of the Year in 2004. Awarded the UNPD Short Animation competition in 2005. Spreads of her latest experimental graphic novel is selected for “The Big Book of Layouts”, by David E. Carter (USA). She is currently the creative director of Raidy Printing Group S.A.L.’s Design House, based in Beirut, Lebanon.
LR: Hi MJ
MJR: Well Hello Maroun 🙂
LR: So, what’s your favorite color?
MJR: Chameleon. (just kidding 🙂 well, not really… depending on the situation, context or item, the answer to that question varies, hence my answer above. My favorite paper color is the yellowish used paper color, for it feels raw and real. My favorite lip balm is pink, for it is fleshly fresh. My favorite eyeliner is green, for it goes with the color of my eyes. My favorite food color is orange, for I love salmon sushi. My favorite car is dark grey, for I find it sexy. My favorite rose is white, for it represents endless ends and beginnings. I could go on forever, but I will spare you and stop here. Chameleon will do, to resume it all, for it represents what keeps me going)
LR: First things first, how do you describe your work?
MJR: Socially involved. Bold. Expressive. I inspire (people), and expire (work). We live in a world that is constantly revolving and evolving. My relation with visual communication helps me create a voice for what needs to be heard or known.
LR: What do you think about the production of the visual arts in Lebanon as a whole?
MJR: It is improving, yet slowly. The production that is. There is impressive work being done, that unfortunately doesn’t always get the credit it deserves in this country, due to cultural and economical constraints. When I see a Lebanese person shine outside of the country, I tell myself it is a shame that some talents have to leave to pursue their dreams or goals. The economical problem has a lot to do with that. And the conflicts happening politically today are not helping in anyway.
LR: You are working on a graphic novel entitled “breaking barriers”, where you explore real stories of women combined with a fictive narrative. What initiated your interest in this work?
MJR: No the graphic novel is ABOUT breaking barriers, but it is entitled “Oysters”. The title is not final yet, but it goes somewhere around that word. And the book is inspired by several Lebanese women’s real stories.
I have long been interested in underground worlds within society. I constantly try to understand deeper levels of lives. Many taboos lead to misunderstandings. Many issues need to be spoken about. Awareness needs to be spread, in different ways for each taboo and case. But denying the existence of an issue does not stop its existence at all. My interest in this book resulted in a research I conducted, a personal interest I had in understanding how these women think, live, struggle. it lead me to an interesting place, that I wanted to share with others. I documented stories from which I created a fictive narrative, and my challenge was in the visual translation of these words into mixed media illustrations. For I am not a narrator, I am a visual artist, and this is the language I choose to speak in.
LR: I see that you are trying to touch on controversial themes and taboos in your work. What guides you into such direction?
MJR: In social dinners or gatherings, it frustrates me to hear people talk about issues they have no clue about, thinking that they understand what they were never in touch with. But I can’t blame them, for they had a specific education (that was primarily my own as well). This makes me constantly realize the need to spread reality and break the lies, break taboos and spread awareness. Break ignorance and give birth to new ideals, to make this world a better place. The present is a future constantly satisfied and a past constantly fed upon. So today is the time for change. For today is yesterday is tomorrow.
LR: You have been planning to publish your novel. Are you looking for an independent publisher or will you publish it through RPG?
MJR: Hm… honestly I don’t know, either self publishing or preferably an international publisher. The book is in English, and although the text was built from Lebanese people, my audience also and most importantly lives in foreign countries.
LR: You also worked on a Photography project entitled “Rusted Beirut”. Tell us a little about it.
MJR: This was just a small university project, a publication I did in a course I took with Anja Lutz, designer and editor of the German publication Shift!. Streets of Beirut are very inspiring. Not the new buildings but old ones, and I was especially charmed by the rusted leftovers of the old Beirut that are now part of the new one. They hold an entire memory/story/moment/history in them, like buildings with war bullets, or rusted old street numbers, so on so forth. This is why I called the publication Rusted Beirut.
LR: Any last words?
MJR: I don’t want to kill the cat, but Yes, one last question. Who are you? 🙂
LR: We are lebrecord ofcourse 🙂 . It was a pleasure MJ. We’ll keep our news section updated with your newest.
MJR: The pleasure was mine. Thank you
MJ’s address on the web is: www.mariejoeraidy.com
You can contact MJ at: info[[at]]mariejoeraidy[[dot]]com
or at mariejoeraidy[[at]]yahoo[[dot]]com
Write MJ at:
P.O.Box 175 165 Beirut – Lebanon