Highlights: Parallel Paths
The Lyn Blumenthal Memorial Scholarship helps an SAIC student realize her work and connect with her benefactor.
by Anjulie Rao (MA 2014)
Prior to her untimely death in 1988, Lyn Blumenthal was recognized as a leading and innovative experimental feminist media artist and teacher. Along with Kate Horsfield, she founded he Video Data Bank at SAIC in 1976, which continues to receive international recognition as the country's foremost collection of video by and about contemporary artists. The Lyn Blumenthal Memorial Scholarship for Graduate Study in Film, Video, New Media, and Animation (FVNMA) exists to carry on her spirit and legacy of innovation in the field of Media Arts. This year the prestigious scholarship was awarded to SAIC graduate student Yaloopop (MFA 2014), whose work explores the frontiers of Asian pop culture through the lens of new media.
Lyn Blumenthal (MFA 1976)
The history and work of Yaloopop directly parallels those of Lyn Blumenthal herself, as both experimented with various forms of media during their lifetimes before settling into video and new media work. Frima H. Blumenthal, Lyn's mother, recounts her daughter's early interest in art, "[Lyn] started to paint...when she was about 7 or 8. She was always interested in it. She was using oils when she was 10. When she came to SAIC she decided, for some reason, that she would focus on sculpture."
Throughout Lyn's time at SAIC, she began to realize the important influence that both video (which was a new technology at the time) and women artists were having on the art world. Her work rapidly began utilizing new technologies in video to conduct interviews with contemporary artists—especially women. These seminal interviews are still housed in the Video Data Bank.
Similarly, Yaloopop was a painter during her high school years in Korea. As she came to SAIC for her Bachelor in Fine Arts degree, she initially studied painting and sculpture as her primary medium. However, as she began working in the Media Center, she took an interest in the equipment and the "magical" element behind television and animation. She began taking classes in FVNMA, and has since been using video to create ethereal, almost surreal natural environments. Most recently, she has been using video to conduct hyper-relevant research into Korean Pop (KPop) culture. "I am interested in how KPop culture can stimulate people over the world," she says.
The parallels between Blumenthal and Yaloopop are subtle, but powerful. Both women produce work which engages a broader cultural phenomenon; both found their ways to new media; and both used public forums such as the Internet, or, in Lyn's case, the development of a massive, experimental outdoor video exhibition in Grant Park in the mid-1970s.
Yaloopop's work embodies the spirit and culture of innovation which Lyn Blumenthal's art flourished. This scholarship will allow Yaloopop to continue her methods, but has also allowed her to, "be more critical of [her] practices and learn to question [her] process." Frima Blumenthal emphasizes that the scholarship directly reflects Lyn's passion for, "helping new and emerging artists who are always trying to be a step ahead."
On receiving this prestigious scholarship Yaloopop remarks, "Whenever [scholarships] happen for a young artist, it gives [them] faith and hope...I hope to become a video artist, and to continue enjoying making work."