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Sonya Rapoport

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Sonya Rapoport

American, (1923–2015)
sonya Rapoport was an American conceptual, feminist, and New media artist. She began her career as a painter, and later became best known for computer-mediated interactive installations and participatory web-based artworks. Rapoport studied biology at Boston University and economics at New York University, graduating with a B.A. in 1946. In 1944, she married Henry Rapoport, a chemistry professor, and went with him to New York, Washington, DC, and then to Berkeley, CA. Sonya Rapoport pursued her studies in art throughout their moves. She attended the Art Students League of New York where she studied with Reginald Marsh, then entered the Corcoran School of Art and Design to study figurative art and oil painting, and finally enrolled in the graduate program in Art Practice at the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied with Erle Loran, receiving her M.A. in 1949. In the late 1970s, Rapoport also developed a collaborative practice as her work moved away from painting and drawing into the realm of installation, performance, and research-based mixed-media projects. She collaborated with research chemists, software engineers, and anthropologists to realize her increasingly complex projects. During the 1980s, Rapoport developed related conceptual works that utilized data visualization and computer coding. In some of these projects, Rapoport introduced computer-assisted interactive installations, where the audience was invited to participate and contribute data for the projects’ subsequent iterations. From 1989 to 2013 Rapoport’s artistic focus shifted to net art. During this period she produced more than a dozen interactive web projects. Rapoport was an early adopter of internet technology and was affiliated with a community of like-minded creators associated with MIT’s Leonardo Magazine. These works were motivated by her interest in the humanistic potential of computers, and informed by her knowledge of programming and experience creating work that responded to viewer’s choices.

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