Sonya Rapoport’s drawing Mercury (1978) is featured in the exhibition Shifting Terrain – Works on Paper from the Collection at SFMOMA. The exhibition is on view now through March 8th, 2020.
Mercury is part of a series of drawings in which Rapoport collaborated with nuclear physicists, in this case C. Michael Lederer of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Working directly on printouts of original research, Rapoport collaged illustrations from various sources, coping the images from electrostatic photocopies using a solvent transfer process.
“The printouts described changes in elements when they are bombarded with nuclear substances. This material involves transmutation of elements, their decay, change of identity and regeneration to a new use. The experiment updates alchemy and its dream of making gold. Metaphorically rich in its implications of Jungian psychology and universal religion, the overlay drawings express these relationships as they graphically and contextually interpret the printout.”
– Sonya Rapoport, from unpublished notes, 2009
The original Mercury is in the collection of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The work on view at SFMOMA is one of an edition of hand-colored electrostatic photocopies.