sfai news

March 08, 2010

SFAI Alumna Kathryn Bigelow Wins Oscars

On Sunday, 7 March 2010, SFAI alumna Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman ever to win a best-director Oscar. She won the Oscar for her film The Hurt Locker, which also won for best picture.

Bigelow studied painting at SFAI in the late 60s and early 70s, a foundation which served as a springboard for her winning a prestigious scholarship to the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program in 1971. After this stint in New York City, she took her BFA in Painting at SFAI in 1972. From there, she returned to New York City, where she converted a vault in an old off-track betting building into a studio and set to making art. During this period she met and was in dialogue with such theorists and artists as Vito Acconci, Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Serra, and Susan Sontag. Later graduating from Columbia University’s Film School, Bigelow also worked with conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner and was a sometime member of the conceptual artists group Art and Language.

“Though SFAI’s alumni legacy down the years is a Who’s Who of accomplishments,” SFAI President Chris Bratton commented, “Kathryn’s unprecedented and historic win—for a work that at once appeals to a mass audience, pushes the boundaries of the filmic medium, and shows a side of war mainstream media will not—is truly a watershed.”

“It also provides us at SFAI,” President Bratton added, “with a fine reminder of what we’re all about. In a recent interview, Kathryn was asked whether her deep art background informed her current practice. Her reply was that you can’t unknow what you know; it’s somehow always there in the background, like pigment.”

In addition to the Oscar-winning Hurt Locker, Bigelow’s filmography as a director includes K-19: The Widowmaker (2002), Strange Days (1995), and Point Break (1991), the latter of which a recent generation of SFAI students and alumni have redone, in homage, as a live-action performance piece.

Other SFAI alumni who have been nominated for or have been awarded Oscars include Richard Beggs, Menno Meyjes, Peter Pau, Laura Poitras, and Ruby Yang.