Pairing of Polarities: The Life and Art of Sonya Rapoport

A pioneer in conceptual art

Sonya Rapoport has long been a pioneer in the merging of science and technology with art. Now in her eighties, she has had work shown internationally, including as part of traveling exhibitions sponsored by the U.S. Information Service and the National Endowment for the Arts. In honor of her tremendous contributions and accomplishments, twelve noted scholars, scientists, and art historians have come together in this book to discuss her work. The result is an engaging look at a career that covers half a century and spans genres from traditional artforms to Abstract Expressionism and digital art.

Editor Terri Cohn, cocurator of two upcoming retrospective exhibitions—at the Kala Art Institute and the Mills College Art Museum—calls her a systems conceptual artist whose artwork mediates scientific, feminist, Jewish, and sociopolitical themes. At times Rapoport’s work is playful or downright humorous, at others uncommon or disturbing. She combines her formal training as a painter and her clear bent toward mathematical thinking with audience participation and Web-based media, always pushing boundaries and creating meaningful relationships across seemingly unrelated fields.


“Sonya Rapoport's [work] is full of mirth, myth, and politics…Her compositions pull a tension between organic and mechanical forms, computer printouts and handmade quilts.”



“Sonya Rapoport does the impossible by opening intimate investigations of constellations of a life as an experience for others to explore. She invites us to decipher the logic and systems of her clusters of objects and texts, as they prompt a myriad of conjectures in our minds on their intersections, associations and meanings.”

—Paula Levine, professor of art at San Francisco State University


“Buckminster Fuller had a theory that the next great breakthrough in our civilization would happen in California, the midpoint between the civilization of the East, Japan, and the civilization of the West, the East Coast of the USA and Europe. Sonya Rapoport is part of the explosion Fuller predicted. She may be the most important artist I represented.”

—Jock Truman, former director of the Betty Parsons Gallery and the Jock Truman Gallery in New York

About the Editor

Terri CohnTerri Cohn is a writer, curator, and art historian. She was a contributing editor to Artweek magazine for twenty years, and has contributed to five books, dozens of exhibition catalogs, and numerous journals. A curator for more than thirty years, she currently works as an independent curator in addition to sitting on the faculty of the Interdisciplinary Studies Department at the San Francisco Art Institute. She has researched, written, and lectured for museums and universities around the worldand has served residencies at the Headlands Center for the Arts and the Vermont Studio Center. She has been a board member for the Djerassi Resident Artist Progam and was a founding member of the advisory board for the Art Monastery, in Italy.