The Rappaport Prize

This year marks the twenty-first anniversary of the prestigious award, which is presented to a contemporary artist with strong connections to New England and a proven record of achievement. Established in 2000, the Rappaport Prize is one of the most generous contemporary art awards of its kind. In 2010, the Prize was endowed in perpetuity by the Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation, assuring the ongoing support of contemporary art and artists in New England. In 2019, The Rappaport Foundation made an additional gift of $500,000 in order to increase the annual award amount from $25,000 to $35,000.

DeCordova Awards 21st Annual Rappaport Prize to Sonya Clark


Sarah Montross, Interim Artistic Director/Senior Curator, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, writes, “In the midst of a worldwide health and financial crisis and one of the largest social movement in US history, we thought deeply about who should receive this year’s Rappaport Prize. Sonya Clark’s work thoughtfully and powerfully addresses aspects of Black experience in the United States, grappling with the relationship between history, social injustice, institutional racism, and racial inequality.”  

Clark adds, “Good news these days is a tender seedling pushing through hard concrete. It signals the fecundity of hope. The Rappaport Prize, this unexpected recognition, is a verdant promise, one that will help germinate the creative impulses my ancestors planted in my DNA long ago. I care for those seeds, help them flourish by resisting injustice and celebrating my forebears through my art practice. I am deeply grateful for the support this award provides towards this purpose."   


Program Details

The Rappaport Prize Lecture with Sonya Clark will take place in early 2021. Details to be announced. 

About the Artist

In her artwork, Clark turns everyday items such as hair combs and flags into aesthetic objects. Some projects celebrate Black identity and craft, while others confront viewers with the damage of white supremacy in the United States. She also works with large-scale installation, performance, archival research, and participatory actions. Across all mediums, Clark challenges viewers to make connections between past and present, probing the roots of racial and national identities, and highlighting links between the founding of the United States, the institution of slavery, African diaspora and migration, and contemporary practices of policing and incarceration.  

Clark has exhibited at over 350 museums and galleries worldwide. Her work is in collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.  

Before her current position at Amherst College, Clark was Chair of the Craft and Material Studies Department at Virginia Commonwealth University from 2006 to 2017, and prior to that, the Baldwin-Bascom Professorship of Creative Arts at the University of Madison-Wisconsin. She holds a BA and honorary doctorate from Amherst College, a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. 

About the Rappaport Prize

Since its inception in 2000, the Rappaport Prize has been an investment in both individual artists and the broader art community. Founded and funded by the Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation, the Rappaport Prize follows the Foundation’s mission of promoting leadership in art, public policy, and medical research. Endowed at, and selected annually by, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, the Rappaport Prize supports artists while educating the public about developments in American contemporary art.

The prize celebrates the achievement and potential of an artist who has demonstrated significant creativity and vision, and encourages the recipient to continue a career of innovative art making. Together, deCordova and the Rappaport Foundation hope to create a community of accomplished artists whose careers have been enhanced by the recognition of the Rappaport Prize. In 2010, the Rappaport Foundation permanently endowed the prize, ensuring its continuation in perpetuity.