Born in Durham, North Carolina, Matheson grew up in nearby Hillsborough and graduated in 1964 from Sweet Briar College in Virginia with a B.A. in English history. In 1972 she enrolled in a photography course at Penland School of Crafts in the North Carolina mountains. The teacher, John Menapace, provided not only her first formal training but also the confirmation and encouragement she needed to pursue photography seriously. The subject of several solo shows in addition to one at the NCMA, Matheson has also been chosen for innumerable group exhibitions, including seven North Carolina Artists Exhibitions. Matheson received a North Carolina Award, the highest civilian award in the state, in 2004 for her photographic legacy.