María Magdalena Campos-Pons was awarded the Rappaport Prize for her virtuosity in a wide range of artistic media—installation, photographs, paintings—all used to express personal narratives and experience. Her art often references the various displacements that characterize her family's history; her ancestors were from Nigeria and came to Cuba through the slave trade, and the artist herself was exiled from Cuba and moved to the United States. Campos-Pons uses art to untangle, or at least investigate, the strands of cultural, racial, and sexual identities that form her family tapestry. Her 1998 Polaroid collage Replenishing depicts the artist and her mother—each in separate photos and framed separately—holding two intertwined strands of rope. The piece represents Campos-Pons's family and history as simultaneously fractured and connected, geographically separated yet spiritually whole.
"I don't know how to express it but I was overwhelmed," said Campos-Pons in a phone interview. "It's beautiful to be acknowledged in a place that you have put so much time and energy...[The Rappaport Prize] really brought to me a sense of belonging, a moment of recognition by Bostonians on the scope and value of my effort as an artist and citizen here."
Campos-Pons is co-founder of the Boston art space GASP, a gallery that encourages artistic exchanges and collaborations in order to understand the contemporary cultural landscape. In 2007, she was featured in a major solo exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Everything Is Separated by Water: María Magdalena Campos-Pons. Her work can also be found in the collections of the DeCordova, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.