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Foundations of Chemistry

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 51–60 | Cite as

The advent of chemical symbolism in the art of Sonya Rapoport

  • Meredith Tromble
Article

Abstract

This paper explores the use of chemical symbolism in works by the new media artist Sonya Rapoport, with a focus on the pivotal Cobalt series from the late 1970s. These works, drawings on computer printouts generated by research at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, respond to experiments in nuclear chemistry. They mark the beginning of three productive decades in which Rapoport produced a variety of images related to chemistry in her work. She states, “I looked for authentic research projects that were interesting to me, preferably with captivating pictorial subject matter. Then came the creative chaotic process of resolving a cohesive product that combined scientific research with art concept.” Rapoport had an unusual degree of access to scientific materials through her husband, organic chemist Henry Rapoport, a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley. At the time of production, these works were outside mainstream art world interests and they have received little critical attention. This paper examines the development of Rapoport’s images and places her use of chemical references in context in her lifetime of work.

Keywords

Alchemy Art Chemistry Cobalt Digital art Drawing Feminism Gold Lederer New media Nuclear chemistry Periodic table Rapoport Scientific illustration 

References

  1. Couey, A., Malloy, J.: A Conversation with Sonya Rapoport, Interactive Conference on Arts Wire June. Available via Web site. http://www.well.com/~couey/interactive/rapoport/sonya.html (1995). Accessed 30 June 2008
  2. Lash, J. In: The Radiant Wisdom Stone. Available via Web site. http://www.metahistory.org/StoneWise.php April 22, (2006). Accessed 12 February 2008
  3. Rapoport, S.: Interview with author. Berkeley, CA (2007). July 21Google Scholar
  4. Stipp, D.: In: Trouble in Prozac. Fortune. Available via Web site. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2005/11/28/8361973/index.htm November 28, (2005). Accessed 12 February 2008
  5. Voss, K. In: Gnosis and Hermeticism from Antiquity to Modern Times. http://www.istanbul-yes-istanbul.co.uk/alchemy/Spiritual%20Alchemy.htm August (1994). Accessed 12 February 2008

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.San Francisco Art InstituteSan FranciscoUSA

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